The Prime Minister of Thailand said Thai Airways might receive state aid, but warned it would be the “last chance” for the ailing airline. The flag carrier is reportedly seeking a $1.8 billion (58.1 billion baht) loan from the government.
During a press conference on May 5, 2020, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha indicated that the government might be willing to provide financial aid to Thai Airways, but the airline must entail a comprehensive restructuring. Thai Airways was reportedly seeking an emergency loan of $1.8 billion (THB58.1 billion baht) from the Thai Ministry of Finance, Reuters reported in April 2020.
To turn-around, the airline would have to change its organizational structure, make cuts of expenses, and use funds carefully and appropriately, the Prime Minister said, calling for cooperation among all parties ‒ from the airline’s board members to the trade unions.
“This is the last chance,” said Chan-o-cha.
The previous attempt to encourage Thai Airways employees to cooperate in the company’s restructuring by using strong rhetoric came into the spotlight in October 2019. The staff was reportedly warned that if they did not participate in rehabilitation efforts, the airline would close down.
The following day, the company issued a public statement in which it denied an imminent bankruptcy and explained that the remarks were only aimed at raising “employee awareness of the highly competitive state of the airline industry”.
Between 2013 and 2019, Thai Airways had only one profitable year ‒ in 2016. In 2018, Sumeth Damrongchaitham was appointed as the company’s president to turn the business back into profitability. In the same year, the airline began implementing the Company’s Rehabilitation Plan 2018. However, Thai Airways ended 2019 with a net loss of $371 million (THB12 billion) and had $667 million (THB21.6 billion) of cash reserves.