Thai Airways: Corruption, slow recovery, and selling planes including 2 A380s
The pandemic has not been kind to Thai Airways. With international borders closed and the tourist industry devastated, the only consolation is the low rate of COVID-19 infection in the kingdom. Only 4180 infections reported, and 60 deaths reported.
In a lot of ways COVID-19 shows us all the flaws in our societies, whether it be the casualisation of work, or a scatter-gun approach to fleet acquisitions.
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Thai Airways is currently in Central Bankruptcy Court supervised administration, having had a recovery plan approved after haemorrhaging money for years and then the pandemic grounding most of its fleet. The airline owes around 332 billion baht (15 billion AU$ if my calculations are correct?), according to the Stock Exchange of Thailand website.
The airline used to be a state business which gave it certain protections, but since the states stake fell below 50% it no longer qualifies
There have been rumours of corruption or at the very least, interference from outside the airline for years.
According to the Bangkok Post new evidence is about to be presented to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Dec 14 by a panel headed by a former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, set with the task of examining the factors involved in landing the airline in debt.
The allegations include:
. . . alleged major irregularities were found in various items, including air ticket sales, overtime payments to technicians and the purchase of Airbus A340 planes in 2003-2004.Bangkok Post
Thai just added 2 of its A380’s to more than 40 other planes it is hoping to sell, including 10 Boeing 747s, 18 Boeing 777s, 9 Airbus A340s (doh!), three Boeing 737s and a single Airbus A330. If you’re in the market for a jet, or just want to gloat (so unfashionable) try here: Thai Aircraft Trading website. Just remember that . . .
‘Disclaimer: This announcement is a part of a market survey to find potential buyers for the items listed in accordance with THAI’s business plan under the reorganization proceeding. The actual sale will take place under the business reorganization plan and would require approvals of relevant stakeholders and the Bankruptcy Court.’
You could pick up a Boeing 747s, 18 older Boeing 777-series jets, nine Airbus A340s, three Boeing 737s and a solitary Airbus A330.
Thai is re-negotiation the delivery of it new 777-300ER aircraft with Boeing. These aircraft sport new cabins, including a new PriestmanGoode designed first class, something that the older 777s lacked. Incidentaly that’s why Sydney kept getting those old Jumbo’s scheduled on the route, because apparently, someone of influence wanted to have a first class cabin available to them.
Thai’s Australian destinations
The airline is also pulling back on its Australian destinations, abandoning Perth and Brisbane, which cuts it back to just Melbourne and Sydney, to be offered in 2021 when borders re-open.
The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.
It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.
This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.
I loved Thai Airways, and back a few decade or so. They were my preferred business class bus to Europe, with their reasonably priced business cabin with its angled lie flat seats. Then they kinda lost the plot, and retained those outdated seats when everyone was providing actual flat seats in business.
Thai also provided my first first class experience – gotta love an upgrade certificate!
I hope that bankruptcy administration, and these corruption hearings will sort Thai out so that it can become the great airline it once was post this god-aweful-pandemic.
What did you say?