THAI workers' jobs 'safe for now'

THAI workers' jobs 'safe for now'

Clear rehab plan to decide staff levels

A Thai Airways International plane stands on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post photo)
A Thai Airways International plane stands on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post photo)

The management of Thai Airways International (THAI) insists job terminations are not in the pipeline for at least a year even though downsizing the fleet and cutting routes are part of its six-point strategy to turn the business around.

The assurance was given by acting THAI president, Chakkrit Parapuntakul, to airline staff on Thursday during a meeting to clarify the debt-rehabilitation process after the Central Bankruptcy Court agreed to examine its rehabilitation plan in August.

Mr Chakkrit said the court might take three to five months to vet the rehabilitation plan and the airline will need to speed up the implementation of its six-point strategy to keep the company afloat.

"We receive a lot of questions about layoffs and I can assure that the employment status of the staff remains intact. There will be no layoffs, for the time being, as we have to wait for a clear re-organisation plan.

"Once it is ready we'll know how many jobs will be retained. Then we will come up with plans and remedies. It will take at least a year before we reach that point," he said.

Mr Chakkrit said the restructuring may also set clear business directions for the airline and help it identify profitable units for expansion. In that case, massive layoffs may not be necessary and staff could be rotated to work in those units, he said. The national carrier, 244 billion baht in debt, has more than 20,000 employees and it is feared up to one-third of the workforce could be affected by downsizing.

Despite flight operations looking set to resume now that Covid-19 restrictions have eased, the aviation industry will not rebound easily, he said.

The outbreak has disrupted the travel industry and the way people travel and it will take one or two years for the sector to recover.

He expressed confidence that if THAI can follow the six-point strategy, the company will become financially strong within five years.

According to Mr Chakkrit, the strategy includes downsizing the fleet; reducing routes; revamping ticket sales; restructuring the company to match the size of its business; cutting costs and revamping welfare benefits; and expanding investment in small business units such as catering and cargo services.

While assuring THAI does not have liquidity problems thanks to cost-cutting over the past months, cash flow remains a challenge, Mr Chakkrit said.

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