Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) reported a fourth-straight quarterly profit as passenger numbers continued to improve in the wake of the coronavirus disease (Covid), with extra impetus coming from travellers from China.
Net income for the three months through September was 1.54 billion baht (US$43 million), rebounding from a loss of 4.79 billion baht a year earlier, the airline said in an exchange filing on Friday.
Passenger numbers hit 3.27 million, up 22% from the same quarter last year, when Thailand had just started to ease Covid travel restrictions. Despite being a low season for tourism, the number of visitors from China rose 13% from the previous quarter to 1.05 million, according to government data.
However, Europe and China bookings for the typically busy winter season have been "weaker than expected" as the economic slowdown has impacted demand from those key markets, Piyasvasti Amranand, chairman of the airline’s debt rehabilitation administrator, said at a press briefing.
THAI plans to exit from a court-supervised debt restructuring earlier than scheduled in late 2024 as the rebound in global travel and Thailand's relaxation of visa rules boosts its earnings and cash flow. The airline posted losses every year bar two since 2013 and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020. Most creditors agreed to extend terms and cut some interest repayments as part of a rehabilitation plan.
THAI will lease about 23 new aircraft through 2025 to help its flight and route expansion, Mr Piyasvasti said, adding that competition is intensifying.
Piyasvasti Amranand, THAI Chairman of the Plan Administrators, is speaking at a press briefing in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo: THAI)
The national carrier's operating profit before finance cost and one-time items surged 97% last quarter to 7.72 billion baht.
Following a radical restructuring during the Covid-19 pandemic that included a reduction in employee numbers by half, the carrier is still working through a court-monitored debt restructuring.
THAI is now in the process of rebuilding its operations, with about 65 aircraft in its fleet, compared with 103 pre-pandemic.