BANGKOK, July 21 (Reuters) - 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. A Thai government spokesperson did
not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.
($1 = 32.8600 baht)
(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng
Editing by James Pearson)