Carriers under the cosh

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Carriers under the cosh

Group of airlines ready to press state

Planes belonging to the airlines Thai Smile Airways, AirAsia and Thai Airways are parked on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Thai AirAsia considers the forced lockdown jeopardizes its financial position as the aviation industry has struggled without government support for more than a year, calling into question the government’s ability to collect taxes when large companies were left behind.

Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation (AAV), the largest shareholder of Thai AirAsia (TAA), said liquidity was at a critical juncture and he had had to seek emergency loans to help pay off payroll this month.

The company is preparing a business restructuring that will see new investors inject a 3.5 billion baht loan, but the process has been delayed as further discussions with relevant authorities are needed.

The airline was the first carrier to cut all domestic routes on July 12, following news of the partial lockdown.

“We stopped all flights last week because there was little demand with only 30 to 50 passengers per flight in July,” Tassapon said.

“The government has never responded to our requests for subsidized loans which have been requested since the first lockdown last year. The ban on domestic flights has now made the situation worse,” he said.

He said seven airlines from the Airline Association of Thailand (AAT) will come together and call on the government this week to urgently address the impact on the aviation industry as they have suffered the most. of the last lockout announcement.

According to AAT, seven airlines in Thailand have a total workforce of over 15,000 people.

Mr Tassapon said if the government just watched big companies like airlines collapse, as happened with few carriers last year, it would have a negative impact on the government’s budget. next year when big business won’t be able to generate tax revenue.

“The government might not be able to meet tax collection targets because many big taxpayers lose their financial status. With a huge 3.3 trillion baht loan that the government has to repay, how can it settle the problem? budget if it lacks a large contribution from companies? ”he said.

Last week, the World Bank cut Thailand’s GDP projection this year to 2.2%, in the same direction as the country’s commercial banks which previously revised the figure down to around 1% after a new locking.

Mr Tassapon said if this scenario came true, more airlines would not survive until next year.

“Even though TAA will not have to shut down like other airlines, it is very difficult to overcome this crisis on our own,” he said.

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