Thai Airways Expected To File For Bankruptcy

Thai Airways is majority government-owned, and a government panel has recommended that the airline restructure in bankruptcy. The Thai cabinet will consider bankruptcy for the airline on Tuesday.

Thai Airways, majority owned by the Finance Ministry, has outstanding debt of about 92 billion baht ($2.9 billion), of which approximately 78% is owed to bond investors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Tris Rating Co., which is partly owned by S&P Global Ratings, has downgraded its rating on Thai Airways and the carrier’s senior unsecured bonds to BBB from A.

“Holders of Thai Airways’ bonds are watching closely for details of its rehabilitation plan,” Thiti Tantikulanan, senior executive vice president of Kasikornbank Pcl, said at a seminar. “The impact on the overall bond market will be limited because Thai Air bonds have been mostly sold to a limited group of investors.”

The airline was on the verge of shutting down without government support back in the fall long before the coronavirus pandemic. The airline has four basic problems: corruption, incompetence, bureaucracy, and low cost competition.

Thai has lost money every year since 2013, in some of the very best times for the airline industry. It doesn’t just need a cash bridge to survive until the pandemic passes.

The best ideas the airline was able to come up with to turn itself around was crowdsourcing cost-cutting ideas and selling frozen meals under the THAI brand.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Thai Airways and the carrier’s senior unsecured bonds to BBB from A”. Remember, junk bond (some insecurity) ratings start at BB+ and below. If the unsecured bonds are still considered investment grade, then it is not a real bankruptcy. Normal near bankruptcy ratings are CCC and below.

    I am guessing Thai Airways continues to muddle along with support from the Thai government.

  2. Fifth problem: bloat, though in a way it’s tied to bureaucracy and corruption. They have way too many employees, probably twice as many as needed even in good times. Their plan to cut 40% isn’t enough. It’s sad that they can’t build a viable long haul airline with connecting traffic, since the geographical location seems to be good for Europe-Asia-Australia traffic, and they happen to be based in a city many would like to do a stopover in.

  3. Any idea what would happen to my 3 million Royal Orchid Plus miles in my account?

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