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New lease on life for 7 of Thailand’s budget airlines

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha today threw a lifeline to 7 of Thailands’ domestic low-cost airlines, beginning with the injection of 24 billion baht in soft loans for the struggling aviation sector, battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Representatives of Thai Air Asia, its long haul division Thai Air Asia X, Thai Smile, Thai Lion Air, Thai Viet Jet, Bangkok Airways and Nok Air met with the PM at Government House this morning to air their grievances and to submit their request for aid.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said after the meeting that the 7 carriers responded to the government’s request to retain their roughly 20,000 staff through the Covid crisis, despite that their business is severely limited by travel restrictions and a near-total ban on foreign arrivals. He said the soft loans, which will be available starting in October, should keep the troubled airlines afloat for about another year.

Concerning the airlines’ proposal to extend the period of reduced excise tax on aviation fuel, due to expire at the end of September, Anucha said the administration is assessing the situation, noting that the government has already rolled out the “We Tour Together” programme to support the tourism industry.

He did say, however, that the government has agreed to extend the 50% cut in landing and take-off charges, to the end of March next year, as well as aircraft storage fees, which are due to expire at the end of this year.

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