Earnings surge for Thai airlines as tourists return

THAI Airways International pcl and Bangkok Airways pcl reported a surge in first-quarter (1Q23) earnings as tourists flocked back to the South-East Asian nation. 

Thai Air posted net income of 12.51 billion baht (RM1.69 billion) in the 1Q23, rebounding from a net loss of 3.25 billion baht a year earlier. Bangkok Airways’ net income was 875 million baht versus a net loss of 1.02 billion baht in the 1Q22. 

The Finance Ministry expects international arrivals to reach almost 30 million in 2023, up from last year’s tally of 11.2 million. 

Shares of Bangkok Airways climbed as much as 4.9% to 14.90 baht last Friday, the highest in three months. Asia Aviation pcl, which controls Thai AirAsia Co, rose as much as 3.7%. Its earnings are due on May 15. Thai Air’s shares have been suspended from trading since May 2021 as the carrier restructures its debt. 

Thai Air’s 1Q23 total operating revenue more than tripled to 41.5 billion baht from 11.2 billion baht a year earlier, when borders were closed to control Covid-19. Bangkok Airways’ total revenue jumped 238% to 5.74 billion baht. 

Thai Air plans to exit court-supervised debt restructuring in late 2024. The airline filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020 before most creditors agreed to extend terms as part of a US$5.3 billion (RM23.61 billion) rehabilitation plan. 

The government expects the return of Chinese travellers to further spur the tourism boom, with monthly arrivals from China on course to hit one million from October, a level not seen since the pandemic began. 

Thailand also wants to attract high-spending visitors from the Middle East in the second half of this year as a potential new growth engine, the Bangkok Post reported, citing Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor Apichai Chatchalermkit. — Bloomberg 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition