AOT considering joint venture with Thai Airways to keep services running
The company that runs 6 of Thailand’s airports says it wants to work with Thai Airways to ensure airport services can continue while the national carrier goes through a “rehabilitation” process and struggles with the loss of business caused by the Covid-19 crisis. Airports of Thailand president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn says the AOT board is in talks about a joint venture with the troubled airline to protect operations such as cargo, maintenance, repairs, and ground services at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
“The running of these three units cannot be disrupted, because that would affect the operations of Suvarnabhumi Airport.”
All Thai Airways flights have been grounded since June, with the ailing national carrier embarking on a rehabilitation process. Nitinai says once that process is complete, AOT is willing to let Thai Airways buy back its shares in airport services. A court hearing on August 17 will determine if the airline’s rehabilitation plan can go ahead without opposition. At that point, both parties can enter joint venture talks.
Nation Thailand reports that Thai Airways owes AOT around 3 billion baht. It’s understood 2 billion of that is owed to technicians at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport and has been an ongoing source of disagreement between both companies. Nitinai says his priority right now is not the recovery of this debt, but rather ensuring airport services can continue to run smoothly.
One suggestion included in the national airlines’ rehabilitation plan is to separate business units such as mechanics, catering, products and mailing, to invite private investments for each group.