THAI to seek B29 bln loans from state banks

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Thai Airways International (THAI) plans to borrow a total of 29 billion baht from local financial institutions to refinance short-term loans and use as working capital.

Surachai Tansitpong, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport on his behalf of the chairman of the national flag carrier’s board of directors, yesterday said THAI had been affected by economic downturn and the recent week-long siege of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports by anti-government protesters, bringing down its liquidity during the peak tourist season last year by about 20-30 percent.

The THAI chairman said the airline must borrow 29 billion baht on a long-term basis, expected to be from state-operated Krung Thai Bank, the Government Savings Bank or the Islamic Bank of Thailand.

He disclosed that the THAI’s board of directors has already approved borrowing 10 billion baht while the approval of the balance will be sought soon.

In an attempt to lower the airline’s overhead, especially for board meetings and bonuses which amount to around Bt12 million annually, the THAI is ready to cut benefits to keep its operations afloat, Surachai said.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Sopon Zarum said he had not yet decided or proposed to the government to change the entire THAI’s board although he has been considering such action as the national flag carrier is not making money, adding that if any board member feels unable to achieve the government’s target, a resignation would be welcome.

During the siege of Bangkok airports last year, the airline — owned about 51 percent by Ministry of Finance, 8.6 percent by Vayupak Fund 1 under MFC Asset Management Plc’s management, 8.6 by Vayupak Fund 1 under Krung Thai Asset Management Plc’s management and about 2.7 percent by the Government Savings Bank — stated that it expected to lose about 500 million baht a day.

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