BANGKOK 5 August 2021: Thailand’s seven major airlines are
calling on the government to approve and speed up financial support and bank
loans to keep them afloat.
The Airlines Association of Thailand, which represents the interests of seven airlines that provide the bulk of domestic services in the country, issued a statement Wednesday saying they were still waiting for a response on urgent requests for loans to pay staff salaries. Their proposals had appeared to have gained a government pledge of support.
Association president Puttipong Prasartthong-Roth, who also heads Bangkok Airways, said he was following up on the airlines’ joint statement of 21 July 2021 that asked for support from the government to approve loans that would make it possible to continue paying the salaries of more than 20,000 employees while maintaining partial flight operations.
The temporary domestic flight suspension has been extended to 31 August. Grounding planes has impacted all seven airlines financially and is now jeopardising their ability to pay employee salaries. Airlines face a crisis meeting operating costs while revenue sources have almost disappeared.
In its statement, AAT noted that news reports surfaced on the 3 August, prompting a flood of inquiries asking for an update on the availability of loans and support based on the Ministry of Finance’s policy that would support employees through the downtime.
“The association would like to point out that during the Covid-19 epidemic, airlines have tried their best to adapt. Efforts included working closely with relevant agencies, including getting good help from the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Eximbank) to issue measures to ease debt payments or lending by airlines to support operations.
“As of now, the association insists that loan approvals to maintain employment conditions remains pending, although it is noted that approval in principle came from the Social Security Office of the Ministry of Labour.”
The association claims the stumbling blocks are in the details and the process to introduce credit guarantees from the Small Industrial Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) that needs to adjust the conditions in accordance with the airline business.”
The statement requests the government’s assistance to expedite the required amendments as soon as possible in order that the loan approval is secured to maintain financial support for employees.