Thai airlines in Q3 grief

Thai airlines in Q3 grief

Major Thai airlines plunged into a sea of red ink in the third quarter as the slowdown in international arrivals, a sluggish economy and fierce airline industry competition caused them to lose altitude.

Flag carrier Thai Airways international (THAI) could have been the biggest loser in July-Sept, but was salvaged by a huge foreign exchange gain windfall, enabling it to post a net profit of 1.09 billion baht.

Thai AirAsia (TAA), the country's largest low-cost carrier, posted 382 million baht in net loss for the period.

Bangkok Airways (BA), the 46-year-old regional airline which recently debuted on the Thai stock market, did better with a smaller net loss of 51.8 million baht. For the first nine months, the airline still posted 136 million baht in net profit, lower than the 1.22 billion in earnings a year ago.

Nok Air, the SET-listed budget airline, has yet to announce its third-quarter financial performance, but industry analysts are in consensus that it would face a similar fate as the others.

THAI reported a foreign exchange gain of 7.4 billion baht in the quarter. Excluding this gain, tax and impairment expenses, the state-controlled airline posted a loss of 5.24 billion baht versus a 3.2 billion baht loss a year earlier.

Combined losses for the first nine months of the year widened to 9.17 billion baht, 2.86 billion baht more than a year ago.

TAA singled out higher costs as the cause of its losses, which came despite a mere 1% fall in revenue to 5.55 billion baht. Its performance was reflected by the results of Asia Aviation Plc (AAV), the SET-listed firm that holds a major stake in the carrier. AAV reported a third quarter net loss of 209 million baht.

The airlines see a better outlook in the fourth quarter.

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