THAI's state status is 'up to creditors'

THAI's state status is 'up to creditors'

Govt says striken airline must fly solo

Thai Airways International planes are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Thai Airways International planes are seen at Suvarnabhumi airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Whether the state enterprise status of Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) will be returned depends on creditors, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday.

His comments followed a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss ways to solve the problems of the embattled airline.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, who is being treated in hospital after being diagnosed with Covid-19, also attended the meeting via video link.

THAI lost its state-owned status last year when the Finance Ministry reduced its stake in the airline to under 50% to facilitate the process.

Mr Arkhom said the meeting did not discuss whether to reinstate THAI as a state-owned enterprise.

It is up to its creditors to make a decision on the matter, he said.

THAI's creditors will meet on May 12 to vote on the rehabilitation plan and details of the process should become clearer after that, Mr Arkhom said.

Mr Anutin said it was agreed at the meeting that the rehabilitation plan will go ahead and there are no plans to renationalise the airline.

"It remains to be seen whether THAI's creditors will endorse the plan," Mr Anutin said.

Chansin Treenuchagron, the airline's acting president, said that if the majority of THAI's creditors vote in favour of the plan, new cash can be injected to support the process including plans to resume international flight routes in the fourth quarter.

"If the creditors reject the plan, THAI is unlikely to survive. But if they vote in support, there will be an inflow of new cash which will boost its chances of survival,'' Mr Chansin said.

A source at the Finance Ministry said that some creditors of THAI wanted the airline to return to the status of state-owned enterprise in order to retain international aviation benefits.

However, the source noted that the pros and cons of the issue must be weighed carefully.

The same source said that if THAI was reinstated as a state enterprise, it would see its international aviation route privaleges returned.

However, there are many types of state enterprise and it is necessary to clarify which type THAI would become to ensure the airline's efficient management.

But it would be wrong if THAI was reinstated as a state enterprise only for the sake of vested interests, the source said.

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