New THAI CEO confident of early takeoff from rehabilitation plan
The new chief executive of Thailand’s financially ailing national airline on Thursday expressed confidence that it would be able to exit the rehabilitation plan ahead of schedule.
Chai Eamsiri, chief executive officer of Thai Airways International PLC (THAI), said he was confident that the recovery in the travel and tourism sectors would help the national flag carrier complete its rehabilitation conditions and exit the plan earlier than late 2024.
He said that an early exit would allow THAI shares to resume trading on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 2025.
“The crisis is now over for Thai Airways. We are now in the phase of making money continuously for sustainable development of the organisation,” said Chai, who took charge only on February 1.
THAI has resumed flights on 65% of its pre-Covid routes and its cabin factor was a healthy 85% last year, the CEO said, adding that the airline has made profits since May last year, with a “very good” cash flow of 30 billion baht at present.
The airline earned about 90 billion baht in revenue last year and the figure was estimated to rise by 40% this year, according to the CEO.
He said Thai Airways’ earnings would grow strongly for another year, thanks to the return of Chinese tourists and increased demand for air travel.
According to the CEO, THAI has met most conditions in the business rehabilitation plan quicker than expected.
The airline also has begun its long-term growth programme that includes procurement of new planes and fleet modernisation. With 49 planes at present, THAI aims to expand its fleet to meet rising demand for air transport, taking delivery of six rented Airbus A350 jets in April and planning to lease three more wide-body planes within this year or early next year, according to the CEO.
In September 2020, the Central Bankruptcy Court approved THAI’s recovery plan after the Covid-19 pandemic paralysed global air travel. The airline’s debts stood at 338.9 billion baht against total assets of 298.9 billion baht as of September 30 that year.