Transport Minister Saksayam has ordered Thai Airways International to conclude its plan to purchase a fleet of 38 new aircraft, to replace its aging fleet at an estimated cost of 156 billion baht, within six months.
The minister also ordered the national flag carrier to streamline its operations and increase the efficiency of its 20,000 staff in order to cut costs, while maintaining or improving the quality of its services.
Explaining why he wanted to accelerate the procurement plan, Mr. Saksayam said that the new fleet will generate revenue and reduce costs while increasing THAI’s competitiveness.
The minister said he has confidence in the incumbent management and believes that THAI will be able to reclaim its premiere ranking among the region’s carriers.
THAI president Mr. Aekniti Nititunprapat said that aircraft procurement has been delayed because the company needs to consider its ability to service the loan required to fund the purchases, while assuring shareholders that THAI’s liquidity remains healthy.
Asked why the airline’s load factor has increased to more than 80% but its revenue has not increased accordingly, Mr. Aekniti said the company had to cut its air fares to be competitive, especially low-cost airlines.
He said the company will have to revamp all its routes, especially in Asia, in order to increase its ability to drive revenue.
THAI CEO Sumet Damrongchaitham said THAI will, next year, focus on the Royal Orchid Plus service to encourage its 3-4 million members to use THAI service.
To raise revenues, he said aging aircraft, as well as under-utilized land and properties in Thailand and overseas, will be sold.