(Updates with comment by a government spokesman in the fourth paragraph)
BANGKOK, July 21. (Reuters) – A group of seven Thai airlines are seeking a total of 5 billion baht ($ 152.16 million) in low-interest loans from the Thai government to help deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, the Thai Airways Association said Wednesday. …
Seven airlines initially requested $ 770 million in concessional loans but received no government support.
“We have reduced the request from last year, and the 5 billion baht will only cover wages and exclude rent, jet fuel and other costs,” Thai Airways Association President Puttipong Prasarttong-Osot told reporters.
The latter request accounted for about a fifth of the amount previously requested by the group. Thai government spokeswoman Anucha Burapachaisri said that all proposals to combat the pandemic from any business in Thailand will be reviewed and evaluated for viability.
Travel and tourism in Thailand crashed due to the pandemic as Thai Airways goes through a business recovery and low-cost carrier NokScoot closes last year.
Commercial flights to and from Thailand have been banned since last year, forcing local airlines to focus on domestic travel to offset the loss.
Thailand’s aviation regulator suspended domestic flights to and from Bangkok last week due to new reasons.
170 planes belonging to seven airlines were stopped, and collectively they were carrying labor costs of about 900 million baht per month, the association said in a statement.
“We asked employees to take the maximum possible leave without pay. Now we want to keep 20,000 workers in the industry in employment, ”said Puttipong, who is also the CEO of Bangkok Airways Pcl, adding that some airlines could face layoffs without loans.
The industry group includes Bangkok Airways, the low cost carrier Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai VietJet, Thai LionAir, Nok Air Pcl and Thai Smile, a division of the main carrier Thai Airways.
“If we can get the loan, we can extend it until the end of the year,” said Thai VietJet CEO Voranate Laprabang. (1 dollar = 32.8600 baht) (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng Editing by James Pearson)