Eight airlines to meet Minister Uttama on loans

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Eight domestic airlines prepared for discussions with the Finance Ministry today (April 20) on seeking soft loans to keep their businesses afloat after complying with the government’s request not to lay off 30,000-50,000 employees in the airline industry amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Thai AirAsia chairman Tassapon Bijleveld said representatives from eight airlines are to meet with Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana to discuss loans at low interest rates to help domestic airlines pay employees’ salaries after the companies have been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“On Wednesday we will hold a meeting among us and officially announce measures and policies regarding future business operations,” Tassapon said.

According to a source, eight airlines submitted a letter to the ministry last week asking for soft loans totalling Bt24.15 billion. They are Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai Lion Air, Thai Vietjet Air, Thai Smile, Nok Air, and NokScoot.

“We would also like the government to announce a clear policy this week on allowing flights in May, as many airlines including AirAsia are prepared to restart domestic flights by May 1,” he added. “As many provinces are still on lockdown, flying there would be prohibited. A clear policy from the government will help airlines make a decision on which routes to open.”

Meanwhile, a news source from Thai Lion Mentari, or Thai Lion Air, has revealed that the company terminated 120 employees, all of whom have been working with the firm for less than a year.

“The company may have to borrow from financial institutes to pay compensation to these employees as required by law,” the source said, adding, “Starting May 1, the company will also start leave without pay and early retirement programmes on a voluntary basis to further reduce costs.”