Thailand’s airlines call for meeting with PM to discuss soft loans
The Thai Airlines Association says 7 member airlines are pushing for a meeting with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss the option of soft loans. The carriers have been seeking this financial aid for some time and have even decreased the amount being asked for, from 24 billion baht last year to 14 billion now.
The Bangkok Post reports that representatives from Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Lion Air, and Thai Vietjet Air want to meet the PM to discuss what progress, if any, has been made on the matter. Wutthipong Prasartthong-osod from the TAA says the loans would give the carriers the support they desperately need at this time, with the association also putting the request in writing.
The airlines previously met with the PM last August to discuss the proposal, with the TAA pointing out the situation has worsened considerably since then. The ongoing third wave of Covid-19 has led to a reduction in flights, which has had a significant impact on revenue.
In addition, carriers are struggling to meet the ongoing costs of operating flights and paying workers. The association says the provision of soft loans would cushion the impact and help domestic tourism. It is also calling on the government to vaccinate airline staff, given that they are frontline workers in the tourism sector.
The Bangkok Post reports that in February, the Finance Minister, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, was hesitant in his response to the call for soft loans, with the Export-Import Bank of Thailand asked to come up with some form of financial assistance for the airlines. According to Arkhom, providing soft loans or bringing such lending under the Public Service Account would mean his ministry having to take responsibility for the difference between market interest and soft loan interest.