THAI swoops to protect planes from seizure

THAI swoops to protect planes from seizure

Petition to keep jets from impoundment

A Thai Airways International plane leaves Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A Thai Airways International plane leaves Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Thai Airways International (THAI) has petitioned courts in three countries to protects its assets -- including its aircraft operating scheduled flights -- from being seized by its creditors, said government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat on Tuesday.

The cabinet on Tuesday was informed about the filing of debt-rehabilitation requests in foreign countries by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who chairs the government-appointed committee tasked with coordinating a solution to THAI's problems.

Ms Narumon said the airline has so far petitioned the courts in Switzerland, Germany and Japan, before adding that the flag carrier is in the middle of submitting a similar request in the United States, where its creditors are based. The petitions, if approved, will protect THAI against the seizure of its assets -- for example, its aircraft being impounded overseas.

Prior to the grounding of THAI's entire fleet at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airline flew to all of the countries whose courts it had petitioned -- except the US.

Last month, the Central Bankruptcy Court in Thailand agreed to examine the airline's rehabilitation request. The court is scheduled to decide on Aug 18 whether or not it will admit the case, which would effectively begin the rehab process.

For the process to occur smoothly, talks with creditors will have to start before Aug 17, in order to limit the possibility of THAI's creditors objecting to the plan when it is presented to the court, Ms Narumon said.

She said an objection will delay and complicate the execution of the rehabilitation plan, and said that this is an issue that the airline's legal consultants are working hard to avoid.

The cabinet was told on Tuesday that THAI racked up 12 billion baht in debt last year, bringing up its total outstanding debt to 244 billion baht.

The airline has fixed expenses amounting to between 5-6 billion baht a month. Without a liquidity boost, THAI will only have enough cash to survive until the end of the month.

The rehabilitation plan is being drawn up by five members of the THAI board, which includes its former president, Piyasvasti Amranand, under the supervision of the bankruptcy court. Along with EY Corporate Advisory Services, they will have "the authority and duty in managing the business and assets of the company", the carrier told the Stock Exchange of Thailand at the end of last month.

On a different note, THAI has announced it is relaunching domestic and international flights next month.

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