Seven Thai airlines seek $152m in government soft loans to weather COVID-19 crisis

FILE PHOTO: Workers service a Thai Airways Airbus A380-800 aircraft at Bangkok International Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand September 3, 2019. Picture taken September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A group of seven Thai airlines are seeking a combined 5 billion baht ($152.16 million) in low-interest loans from the Thai government to help weather the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the Thai Airlines Association said on Wednesday.

The seven airlines had initially requested $770 million in soft loans, but had not received government support.

“We have reduced the request from last year and the 5 billion baht will only cover employment and doesn’t include leases, jet fuel and other expenses,” Thai Airlines Association president Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth told reporters.

The latest request was around a fifth of the amount the group had previously sought. Thai government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said all pandemic relief proposals from any business in Thailand would be considered and assessed for viability.

Travel and tourism has collapsed in Thailand due to the pandemic with Thai Airways undergoing business rehabilitation and low cost carrier NokScoot, entering liquidation last year.

Commercial flights to and from Thailand have been banned since last year, leading local airlines to focus on domestic travel to make up for losses.

Thailand’s aviation regulator last week stopped domestic flights to and from Bangkok as new causes surged.

170 aircraft belonging to the seven airlines have been grounded, and collectively they have been incurring employment expenses of around 900 million baht a month, the association said in a statement.

“We have asked employees to take leave without pay as much as we can. Now we want to maintain employment for the 20,000 industry workers,” Puttipong, who is also chief executive of Bangkok Airways Pcl, said, adding that some airlines could undergo downsizing without the loans.

The industry group includes, Bangkok Airways, budget carrier Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai VietJet, Thai LionAir, Nok Air Pcl, and Thai Smile, a unit of the flag carrier Thai Airways.

“If we can secure the loan, we can go on until the end of the year,” said Thai VietJet CEO, Woranate Laprabang.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.