Thai Airways Q3 loss soars

Thai Airways Q3 loss soars

Trading in THAI shares suspended

Thai Airways International planes sit idle at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Somchai  Poomlard)
Thai Airways International planes sit idle at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Thai Airways International has posted a huge loss for the third quarter, its deficit up more than four-fold on last year, after the coronavirus pandemic shut down global tourism.

Acting president Chansin Treenuchagron said on Thursday the carrier's net loss in the third quarter ending September was 21.53 billion baht, leapfrogging from 4.68 billion baht for the same period last year.

Its load factor, a key indicator of the utilisation of airline fleets, dived to 35% from 80% a year ago, and the number of passengers was down 92% from the third quarter of 2019  to only 490,000.

Mr Chansin said the Covid-19 pandemic was still having a major impact on business, limiting air travel worldwide and keeping foreign tourists at bay.

Tourism is a key driver of the Thai economy, accounting for around 20% of gross domestic product.

Thailand had 6.7 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of the year, down about 77% from almost 30 million last year, according to figures from the Tourism and Sports Ministry. Most of those arrived in the first quarter, before the virus closed down tourism. The number of tourists from overseas last month was zero.

THAI's accumulated performance for the first nine months of the year was not available on Thursday.

Trading in THAI shares was suspended on Thursday after auditors refused to comment on its balance sheet to the end of last month, the Stock Exchange of Thailand announced. THAI shares closed on Wednesday at 3.20 baht, down 2.44% on the previous day.

The airline is under financial rehabilitation approved by the Bankruptcy Court, having finally lost its status as a state enterprise due to a huge accumulating debt, which stood at 28 billion baht at the end of the second quarter.

It has put 34 of its planes up for sale, with the deadline set for Friday for buyers, and is shedding 5,000 employees through an early retirement programme under a cost-cutting plan.

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