Earnings surge for main Thai airlines as tourists flock back

Thai Airways International (THAI) Public Company Limited and Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited reported a surge in first-quarter earnings as tourists flocked back to Thailand.

Thai Air posted net income of 12.51 billion baht (US$370 million) in the three months through March, 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 same quarter last year.

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, the highest in three months. Asia Aviation Public Company Limited, which controls Thai AirAsia Company, 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 first-quarter 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 $5.3 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 1 million from October, a level not seen since the coronavirus 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 (TAT) deputy governor Apichai Chatchalermkit.