Bangkok Airways eyes profit in 2024

Bangkok Airways eyes profit in 2024

Airline looks to MRO services in EEC

Samui airport, owned by Bangkok Airways, is nearly empty during the pandemic. (Photo by Dusida Worrachaddejchai)
Samui airport, owned by Bangkok Airways, is nearly empty during the pandemic. (Photo by Dusida Worrachaddejchai)

Bangkok Airways anticipates it will not return to profit until 2024, though it sees investment opportunities in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) for long-term growth.

Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Airways, said revenue may reach pre-pandemic levels and gain a profit in three years, assuming all routes and international demand resume.

Last year the company reported total revenue dipped by 64.3% to 10.2 billion baht from 28.6 billion in 2019, recording a net loss of 5.3 billion baht.

In terms of airline revenue, Bangkok Airways earned 5.6 billion baht, down by 70% from 19 billion in 2019.

This year the airline's revenue is projected to decrease to 3.39 billion baht, while the number of passengers expected is 1.61 million, down from 1.89 million in 2020, mainly attributed to the new outbreak late last year.

The situation for the upcoming high season remains unclear.

As the recent spike of Covid-19 cases raised concerns about more outbreaks, he said the airline has had to quickly adapt the number of flights to cope with demand.

Bangkok Airways has continued cutting cost by reducing the fleet size from 39 to 30 next year because leasing costs accounted for 30-40% of total operating costs, said Mr Puttipong.

He said the airline is requesting bank loans of around 2.5-3.5 billion baht this year to increase liquidity.

The company has 50.6 billion baht in asset value from its office building, airport facilities and aircraft that can be used as collateral, helping it operate with more flexibility than its peers.

Bangkok Airways operates eight domestic routes, down from 17 overall routes.

Mr Puttipong said the airline plans to resume Phuket-Samui and Phuket-U-tapao airport routes in July to welcome tourists under the Phuket tourism sandbox.

Bangkok-Mae Sot is expected to commence in June with three flights per day.

For international routes, Samui-Singapore and Samui-Hong Kong are scheduled to start in July if travel bubble agreements go through.

"Travel bubbles without back and forth quarantine is the key to accelerate pent-up air travel demand," he said.

Flying from Bangkok, the destinations will likely be Phnom Penh and Yangon in October, said Mr Puttipong.

The airline had 20 international routes before the pandemic and it expects to restart 30% of those next year.

Bangkok Airways also plans to invest around 1 billion baht in the MRO project located nearby U-tapao aviation city.

He said the airline is working on the project's details, which are expected to be submitted to the EEC Policy Committee by this month.

If the project is approved this year, the process for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) takes one year, with another two years for construction, said Mr Puttipong.

The MRO project for four narrow-body aircraft is projected to serve the industry starting in 2024.

The airline is looking for MRO partners in Europe, most likely in Germany or France, which have the know-how for wide-body aircraft.

He said the goal is local airlines using MRO services in Thailand instead of flying to Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia or Malaysia.

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