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Thai Airways Feels Loss Of State-owned Enterprise Status

26 Jun, 2020

Thai Airways International (THAI) is seeking help from authorities after the Airports of Thailand (AoT) recalled more than 50% of the check-in counters and aircraft stands at Suvarnabhumi airport, said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu, who heads a committee coordinating solutions to THAI's problems, said on Thursday the airline raised the recall issue at a recent meeting.

Airports of Thailand said it was taking back some of the counters and stands to reflect planned cutbacks in THAI flights out of Suvarnabhumi, its hub airport, after the airline resumes operations in August after months of suspension because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The carrier, which has a massive 244 billion baht in outstanding debt, has filed for rehabilitation with the Central Bankruptcy Court.

Mr Wissanu said THAI has asked the panel for help as the recall of facilities may be excessive. Prasong Poontaneat, the permanent secretary for finance who sits on the coordinating committee, plans to thrash out the issue with the AoT. Mr Prasong also chairs the AoT board.

Since THAI lost its status as a state-owned enterprise (SOE) following the sale of the Finance Ministry's stake in the airline to below 50%, it no longer holds privileges over the use of facilities and equipment at the airport, said Mr Wissanu.

The carrier is treated just like any other commercial airline, the deputy prime minister added.

THAI occupies up to four rows of check-in counters at Suvarnabhumi airport. The AoT is taking back more than half of them as the airline looks set to reduce its capacity in light of the rehab programme, which will necessitate shrinking its fleet and scaling back flight destinations.

Mr Wissanu said THAI has not formally petitioned courts overseas for debt rehab.

However, the airline has asked that courts in countries where its creditors are based to recognise its impending debt rehab in Thailand.

This is to prevent creditors impounding THAI's assets, including aircraft in foreign countries.

The AoT is also seeking the return of parts of the parking stands allocated to THAI and space in the concourses.

Acting THAI president Chakkrit Parapuntakul said the lockdown easing opens up a lifeline for the airline industry worldwide which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

THAI said it has prepared its ground staff and equipment to be deployed in a comprehensive working plan under "new normal" regulations and practices at airports.


Bangkok Post

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