AoT forced to borrow for first time

AoT forced to borrow for first time

ALMOST EMPTY: Operating Suvarnabhumi Airport is eating into the revenue of Airport of Thailand Plc, forcing the company to seek its first-ever loan. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
ALMOST EMPTY: Operating Suvarnabhumi Airport is eating into the revenue of Airport of Thailand Plc, forcing the company to seek its first-ever loan. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Airports of Thailand Plc is taking out a 25-billion-baht loan, the first time it has borrowed money since it was created more than four decades ago.

AoT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said on Monday the loan was needed because of losses accrued during the pandemic, and it highlighted the severe impact Covid-19 was having on AoT and the aviation industry as a whole.

Mr Nitinai said the AoT was likely to suffer a cashflow problem due to the drastic fall-off in foreign tourism. The worst of it would not be felt until the next fiscal year, beginning in October. 

The AoT also faces limited cashflow after investing in the Phase 2 expansion of Suvarnabhumi Airport, he said. 

The AoT board has approved the loan but will be scrutinising the state of the industry as well as comparing interest rates, terms and conditions closer to the borrowing date. 

The AoT oversees six major airports nationwide, all of which rely on international flights:  Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai, Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, Phuket and Hat Yai in Songkhla.

As of April 20, the six airports were reporting combined average passenger volume of only  38,000 a day, which is expected to dwindle to 15,000-20,000 passengers a day next month as a result of the third-wave Covid-19 outbreak.  

Mr Nitinai said some AoT staff in frequent contact with customers had caught the virus, so stringent health screening measures for both staff and customers would be adopted across all airports.

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