THAI eyes B25bn loans to finance operations

THAI eyes B25bn loans to finance operations

A Thai Airways Boeing 777-300ER plane takes off from Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2015. (Reuters photo)
A Thai Airways Boeing 777-300ER plane takes off from Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2015. (Reuters photo)

Thai Airways International is seeking new loans to help fund operations after the court approved its plan to restructure at least 170-billion-baht debt.

The carrier has been in talks with some banks for loans of as much as 25 billion baht as part of the debt-rehabilitation programme, chief financial officer Chai Eamsiri told a video conference with reporters on Wednesday.

The Central Bankruptcy Court today endorsed the proposal, which is backed by most creditors, the airline said.

“We would like to secure new loans as soon as possible because our operating revenue can’t cover the operating costs,” said Mr Chai. “Our existing cash and revenue now can cover operations only through the end of this year.”

The airline, whose biggest shareholder is the Finance Ministry, in March proposed a three-year freeze on loan payments and a deferment of bond repayments for six years.

To help it return to profitability — it posted a record loss of 141 billion baht last year — the carrier also plans to cut its workforce by half, sell property and seek 50 billion baht in new capital.

“All related parties should go ahead and help THAI succeed in its rehabilitation plan,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told a news conference after a weekly cabinet meeting Tuesday.

The approved debt plan includes some $7.4 billion in claims from dozens of aircraft lessors and engine-service providers.

Bangkok-based Thai Air challenged that in March, saying it isn’t liable for because those claims involve future expenses and were incurred after the airline received bankruptcy protection.

THAI has confidence in its ability to be profitable again once the coronavirus pandemic passes, CEO Chansin Treenuchagron told a press conference. Thailand is one of the top travel destinations in the world and the carrier will be able to capitalise on this popularity, he said.

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