Airlines relief hits Aerothai accounts
Can't help sector without loans boost
The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd (Aerothai) said on Thursday it has complied with relief measures for airlines affected by Covid-19 under a tight budget. It is now in need of loans to boost liquidity.
The move came after seven airlines in the Airlines Association of Thailand (AAT) urged the government to address the impacts on the aviation industry of the latest lockdown.
Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) issued a ban on commercial domestic flights to destinations in provinces hardest-hit by Covid-19, the so-called dark red zones.
The flight ban goes into effect from July 21 until further notice, but exceptions are made for domestic flights to the "sandbox" provinces.
The airlines have asked for soft loans to boost liquidity. They also asked aviation-related agencies to waive aviation service fees to help them save on expenses.
Tinnagorn Choowong, Aerothai's executive vice president for operations, said Aerothai had provided assistance to the airlines affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in line with government policy.
From March to September last year, Aerothai waived late payment fines for air navigation service charges and communications equipment maintenance charges totalling 24 million baht.
From April to December last year, it offered a 50% discount on air navigation service charges for domestic flights and 20% for international flights totalling 500 million baht.
From January to June this year, while it offered no discount on air navigation service charges, it let airlines pay 50% and defer paying the other half for six bill cycles.
Mr Tinnagorn said air travel from October last year to June dropped by 56%. When compared with the pre-Covid situation, air travel plummeted by 72%. He said Aerothai's income in 2021 would be 6.6 billion lower than its expenses and due to the severity of the current Covid wave.
The relief measures extended to airlines and the sharp drop in air travel has taken a toll on the agency's financial status as its main source of income comes from navigation services.
Withe airlines paying 52% on average of their payments due, Aerothai also faced a cash flow problem and it was unable to provide further relief measures to airlines, he said. It would have to find short-term loans to boost liquidity for 2021-2022, he added.
However, the agency was still waiting for clear guidelines on financial relief under public service obligations (PSO) from the CAAT, he said. Aerothai would cut back on expenses and impose fiscal discipline.