Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thai Airways to shift all Bangkok service to 1 hub

Thai Airways International will move all its Bangkok flights to the capital's main airport, as it struggles to overcome losses from last year's airport siege and the global economic slowdown, its president said Thursday.

Thailand's national carrier currently operates some domestic flights out of the capital's smaller Don Muang Airport but will move those flights to Suvarnabhumi, the main international airport, by April, said acting president Narongsak Sangapong.

"The move to one airport will reduce operational duplications from working out of two airports and save us management cost," Narongsak said.

Thai Airways said Wednesday it was seeking up to 34 billion baht ($974 million) in loans from financial institutions for working capital and debt refinancing.

Like other airlines, Thai Airways was hit hard by last year's surge in fuel prices and the global economic slowdown.

Its problems were compounded by recent political turmoil in Bangkok that culminated with the weeklong shutdown of Bangkok's two airports by protesters at the end of November _ an event that stranded more than 300,000 travelers and scared off many tourists to Thailand at the start of the high season.

Raj Tanta-Nanta, the airline's vice president, said Wednesday the closure of the airports cost the airline about 5 billion to 6 billion baht ($144 million to $173 million) in lost revenue.

Thai Airways is currently offering up to 55 percent off certain routes as part of promotions to woo travelers back and fill vacant seats.

Don Muang Airport remains the Bangkok hub for several low-cost carriers, including Nok Air and One-Two-Go.