Thai govt says national carrier’s finances ‘alarming’

Thai govt says national carrier's finances 'alarming' - AFP, January 27, 2009
Thailand's deputy prime minister Wednesday said the financial state of flag carrier Thai Airways was "alarming" and promised the government would step in to help it...

[2015 note: This article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

Suthep Thaugsuban proposed talks between the finance and transport ministries to resolve the crisis at the airline, in which the government holds a majority stake.

"The problem at Thai Airways (THAI) is very alarming and the government will take care of it absolutely," Suthep told reporters.

"I have to admit that the government is very concerned because as of now the airline still has not submitted its rehabilitation plan," he said.

On Tuesday Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij insisted the carrier would have to submit a detailed recovery plan in order to receive taxpayer funds.

In a statement to the Thai stock exchange last week, THAI said it needed 19 billion baht (54.4 million US dollars) to resolve its liquidity problem this year.

It also hoped to raise 15 billion baht to replace short-term debt, the statement said.

Last week the airline announced it would move all its remaining domestic flights from Bangkok's decades-old Don Mueang airport to the new Suvarnabhumi Airport to save up to 700 million baht (20 million dollars) a year.

Earlier this month, THAI also said it would ask to delay the delivery of six A330 aircraft from European aircraft manufacturer Airbus due to a shortage of cash.

THAI's net loss for the first three quarters of 2008 was 6.61 billion baht, against a net profit of 2.53 billion baht for the same period in 2007, according to company figures.

The carrier has suffered amid the global economic downturn and from a week-long blockade of Bangkok's airports by anti-government protesters late last year.

The airline said last year it had lost around 20 billion baht after protesters against the previous government occupied the capital's international and domestic airports from late November to early December.

The protest stranded around 350,000 passengers in Thailand.
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