I think I speak for many of us when I say that if there’s one thing we’ll miss this year, it’s travelling abroad.
Not to mention, worries of imported COVID-19 cases have led to many countries imposing travel restriction or outright bans.
Naturally, this means that tourism in most countries was dealt a heavy blow.
It’s gotten so bad to the point that Thai Airways International is set to go into bankruptcy.
Yes, that popular Thai Airway.
And it’s been nothing but one downward spiral after another.
A Rocky Decade
Unlike its cultural dish Tom Yam, Thai Airways hasn’t been doing too hot for a while.
They have reportedly been having a decrease in their bookings since 2012, with the only exception being in 2016.
In fact, they had lost a net loss of around S$306 million in the second quarter of 2019.
This was even higher than the first quarter where they had a net loss of around S$284 million.
Some attribute the net loss to old aircraft, declining tourist arrivals and other countries with a stronger currency.
Stopping of Flights
COVID-19 happened this year and as you may already know, flights around the world had to be stopped and Thailand was no exception.
In late March, Thai Airways announced that all flights to Asia-Pacific countries would be cancelled besides Cambodia.
They subsequently announced that from 1 April, all flights to Europe would be suspended as well as adding Cambodia as another cancelled country.
Unfortunately, not an April Fool’s joke.
The cancellations were to initially last till the end of May. It has since been extended until the end of June.
In fact, it’s not just Thai Airways: almost all airlines worldwide have grounded their flights by 95%.
Of course, Thai Airways’ problem is that it already has a problem even before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the airline industry.
Filing For Bankruptcy
All of this leads us to where we are today.
On 18 May, Thailand’s government made plans to submit a rehabilitation plan for Thai Airways to a bankruptcy court rather than go ahead with an initial rescue plan.
The airline originally sought a S$2.6 billion loan guaranteed by the Government.
This was to ensure they had enough money to go through the outbreak of the new COVID-19.
A Government spokeswoman said the plan by the State Enterprise Policy Office to salvage the airline will be submitted on 19 May for Cabinet approval.
A bankruptcy law expert told Reuters that the company would have to show a comprehensive plan on how they would recover. Moreover, the planner of the project would have to be favoured by all sides.
Luckily, the Thai Airways Union were agreeable with the procedures, with the president citing previous failures due to influence from politicians.
Pesky politics always getting in the way.
They also stated that they would not agree with any plans to reduce the Government’s shareholding below 51%, because that’ll lead to the losing control of the national airline. Good on them to put their foot down!
Thai Airways’ road to recovery will be long, especially with the damage done over the years and through COVID-19.
Hopefully, this could be the start of things looking upwards for them. Stay tuned for any updates on this situation.
In the meantime, Singapore’s very own airline, Singapore Airlines, is obviously isn’t doing very well, too. It reported its very first loss in its 48-year history, but thankfully, it’s still flying supplies such as medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and fresh foods to get some revenue.
And of course, it never had a problem before COVID-19.
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