Outbreak reduces travel demand in first quarter

Outbreak reduces travel demand in first quarter

Passenger traffic at Suvarnabhumi airport remains meagre. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Passenger traffic at Suvarnabhumi airport remains meagre. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

Airlines faced another setback in the first quarter as the continued pandemic stunted travel demand.

Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, president of Bangkok Airways, said the airline adjusted flight frequencies to meet passenger demand during the new wave, which caused the number of domestic flights to drop 85.6% year-on-year.

The airline closed the first quarter with revenue of 1.36 billion baht, a sharp decrease of 78.8% year-on-year, while the average load factor stood at 58.8% with 151,900 passengers, down 88.5%.

Bangkok Airways posted a net loss of 757 million baht, compared with a loss of 339 million in the same period last year.

Mr Puttipong said Bangkok Airways, part of the BBS consortium that won the bid to build the Eastern Airport City project, continued with development at U-tapao airport in the first quarter, using the U-tapao International Aviation Co (UTA).

UTA held an international architectural design contest for the airport and Eastern Airport City project.

Santisuk Klongchaiya, chief executive of Thai AirAsia (TAA), said the airline also felt the impact of the second wave as its total revenue fell 86% to 1.35 billion baht in the first quarter. The passenger tally dropped 78% year-on-year to 977,932 people, a 66% load factor.

The airline reduced the number of aircraft, leaving the operational fleet at 61 jets at the end of the quarter.

TAA also posted a net loss of 1.87 billion baht, exceeding the loss of 671 million recorded in the same period last year.

Mr Santisuk said there were signs of a travel recovery in March when TAA received a 70% load factor, mainly attributed to lower new daily infections, the rollout of domestic vaccinations and the extension of the tourism stimulus scheme.

However, the third Covid outbreak beginning in April, which is more severe than previous waves, dampened the full recovery progress. TAA expects the impact from this wave will carry on into the second quarter, prompting the company to manage seat capacity and flights to maintain load factor.

In addition, TAA's board of directors approved a restructuring plan to secure up to 6.825 billion baht to support liquidity and airline operations in the future when tourism rebounds, he said. Of the total, 3.15 billion baht is expected to come from investors in TAA's initial public offering, replacing Asia Aviation (AAV) on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

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