Seven airlines to seek bailout to survive
Seven Thai airlines are likely to seek a 16-billion-baht bailout from the Finance Ministry so they can pay their employees while their services are suspended.
The carriers are Thai AirAsia, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, THAI Smile, Thai VietjetAir and Thai AirAsia X.
Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation (AAV), the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia, told the Bangkok Post the airlines had jointly decided to seek financial aid in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has forced global lockdowns.
Most international and domestic flights have been suspended in Thailand since last week.
In negotiations with the Finance Ministry expected tomorrow, the airlines hope to secure a financial package, such as long-term loans, to boost their liquidity and get subsidies on payroll.
"All airlines are tightening their belts during this tough period. Thai AirAsia is still keeping its employees, but has had to cut their wages by up to 30%. Even though we are doing our best, Thai AirAsia will only be able to survive for three months if there is no financial injection," Mr Tassapon said.
On Friday night, Thai AirAsia announced it was cancelling all domestic flights for the month of April in compliance with the Emergency Decree, which was invoked to contain the virus. This decision came after all international flights were suspended a week earlier.
He said only 10 of Thai AirAsia's 63 aircraft were in use, and next month the entire fleet will be grounded due to travel restrictions worldwide.
"This is an unprecedented crisis. We need support to let us get through at least six months," Mr Tassapon said.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry employs 4.27 million people and contributes 15.5% of Thailand's gross domestic product.