Troubled Thai Airways sells used planes, food in painful restructuring

12, Nov. 2020

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

BANGKOK, NNA - Still struggling for survival after filing for bankruptcy, Thai Airways International Public Co. has put up 34 used Boeing and Airbus planes for sale on its aircraft trading website.

According to its normal practice, decommissioned planes will be sold to the highest bidders who have to submit their bids by this Friday (Nov. 13). Checks today showed the company had removed the sale announcement from the site, suggesting that it might have attracted buyer interest.

Money raised from the sale of the ageing jets which include Boeing 747s, Boeing 777s and Airbus 340s will help pay off its debts which have ballooned to 350 billion baht ($11.6 billion), according to media reports.

In September, the Central Bankruptcy Court granted the airline's business reorganization petition.

After a team of planners has prepared the reorganization plan, the airline will submit the proposed plan to the court within the next few months.

The long-drawn rehabilitation process will see the official receiver calling a creditors’ meeting to consider the plan in early 2021 before getting court approval and the appointment of an administrator within three months. Then, Thai Airways will proceed to carry out the plan.

Meanwhile, the airline, a member of Star Alliance, said it will "take care of customers in the period that it is temporarily unable to process a refund."

Travelers applying for ticket refund, but still have faith in the airline and would like to remain as its customers, may exchange the refund for a flight voucher valid until Dec. 31, 2022, the airline said in a statement.

Budget carrier Nok Airlines Public Co., in which Thai Airways owns a 13 percent stake, had also obtained court approval to implement its debt rehabilitation plan.

Like their bleeding counterparts elsewhere in the world, Thai airline companies have been putting on their thinking caps to find ways to stop losing millions in revenue each month and survive the devastating fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

It has been an uphill task as most flight services were cancelled as countries curtailed non-essential travel to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Thai Airways, which operated Thai Airways, filed for bankruptcy in May. In the second quarter its revenue plunged by 40 billion baht to 2.49 billion baht, according to its filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Turning to unconventional ways to make some money, Thai Airways directed its catering division and bakery arm to expand sales and distribution of food items, from takeaway set meals to pies and fried 'patongko' snacks in Bangkok.

The company also transformed an area at their headquarters into a restaurant complete with cabin seats from economy to first class and matching in-flight meals that had been designed by its team of international chefs.

The airplane-themed restaurant has received a positive response from diners, which meant the company succeeded in engaging with travelers who had been grounded too.

The airline also offered flight-simulator experiences to the public, catering to different levels of interest, from people curious about a pilot's work in a cockpit to those serious about taking up aviation as a career.

In March, Thai AirAsia Co. and Grab delivery platform collaborated to offer the former's popular inflight bubble milk teas and meals to the non-flying public. It made a similar partnership with LINE service in May.

AirAsia, which sells tens of thousands of its 75-baht milk-tea drinks each month, expects earnings to sustain the jobs of at least 200 employees during the ongoing pandemic.