Thai AirAsia X refund plan set to be submitted soon
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Thai AirAsia X refund plan set to be submitted soon

Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia X. (Photo: AirAsia)
Tassapon Bijleveld, CEO of Thai AirAsia X. (Photo: AirAsia)

Thai AirAsia X expects to submit a rehabilitation plan by mid-April, compensating all passengers affected by Covid-19 within the next 4-5 months.

Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation and director of Thai AirAsia X, said the rehabilitation plan is being negotiated with creditors, a process that should continue until the middle of next month.

Mr Tassapon said the submission process, which was delayed from March to mid-April, would not affect its operations as it flies direct to six destinations as planned.

However, technical obstacles include one of its six Airbus A330 aircraft being out of service, causing the airline to reschedule and cancel some flights to Japan and Osaka in late March and April.

He said the airline needs between 20 days to one month to fix this issue. Thai AirAsia X expects all six planes to be back operating before next month's Songkran holiday.

To compensate affected passengers, the airline offered free flight changes, travel vouchers and refund options.

Those affected by flight cancellations will also receive a 2,000-baht travel voucher in addition to a ticket refund, said Mr Tassapon.

A number of passengers affected by flight cancellations during the pandemic have been waiting for refunds for more than three years. He said the airline already paid refunds to more than 50% of this group.

The airline expects to compensate all passengers in 4-5 months as the aviation industry recovers and airlines gain healthier cash flows, said Mr Tassapon.

"The remaining challenges for airlines are fuel prices and exchange rates," he said.

Flight capacity is about half of pre-pandemic levels, with the fleet reduced to six jets from 12 prior to the pandemic, said Mr Tassapon.

The newest route for the airline is Bangkok-Shanghai, planned to start in April, he said.

Thai AirAsia X's popular routes between Bangkok and Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul have already recovered to more than 50% of their pre-pandemic frequencies.

Speaking to investors and shareholders at Asia Aviation Investor Day 2023, Santisuk Klongchaiya, chief executive of Thai AirAsia, said the airline was likely to report a profit this year based on more than 42 billion baht in revenue, an increase from 17 billion in 2022.

With 20 million passengers projected for this year, Thai AirAsia estimated Chinese passengers will account for 20% in terms of numbers and 30% in revenue, said Mr Santisuk.

The airline's 40 weekly flights to China have a 90% load factor and it expects to gain about 80,000 Chinese passengers in the first quarter.

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