Thai Airlines Association says 7 member airlines are pressing for a meeting with Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss the soft loan option. Carriers have long been asking for this financial assistance and have even reduced the amount requested, from 24 billion baht last year to 14 billion today.
The Bangkok Post reports that representatives from Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai Smile Airways, Thai Lion Air and Vietjet Air want to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss what, if any, progress which has been done on it is important. Wutthipong Prasartthong – TAA says the loans would provide carriers with the much-needed support right now, with the association also writing the request in writing.
The airlines had already met with the prime minister last August to discuss the proposal, with the TAA highlighting that the situation has since deteriorated significantly. The third continuous wave of Covid-19 has resulted in a reduction in flights, which has had a significant impact on revenue.
In addition, carriers struggle to cope with the ongoing costs of operating flights and paying employees. The association claims that providing subsidized loans would cushion the effect and help domestic tourism. It also calls on the government to vaccinate airline staff, as they are frontline workers in the tourism sector.
The Bangkok Post reports that Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith was hesitant in its response to the request for subsidized loans, with the Export-Import Bank of Thailand requesting some form of financial assistance to airlines. According to Arkhom, providing subsidized loans or placing such loans on a public service account would mean that his ministry will have to take responsibility for the difference between market interest and interest on subsidized loans.