Thai Airways may cut some plane types for good after grounding jets

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Thai Airways International Plc may permanently reduce the number of aircraft types it deploys once the coronavirus outbreak that has caused the company to ground most of its fleet ends, said a senior government official on Monday.

Thai Airways is grounding 69 of its 82 jets following a drop in passenger volume and route cancellations from the increased border restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the state-owned airline said in a statement earlier on Monday. The airline’s board and management will come up with two plans by next month, the first to get the carrier through the coronavirus outbreak and another for business rehabilitation, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam, the government official responsible for Thai Airways, said on Monday. “The rehabilitation plan must be done fast because by October, if Covid subsides, we will need to deliver services to travellers and tourists,” Mr Thaworn said, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting travel restrictions limiting tourism in Thailand has exacerbated the airline’s decline.

The government last week banned entry to foreigners and declared a state of emergency to combat the disease. Thailand on Monday reported 136 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 1,524. Nine people have died.

Regional carrier Bangkok Airways Plc said it was suspending 20 international routes and 10 domestic routes until October, with staff taking salary cuts of 10% to 50%. Budget carrier Thai AirAsia is hibernating its fleet after suspending its international and domestic flights, its largest shareholder, Asia Aviation Plc (AAV) said.

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