Thai Airways set to soar again, says deputy PM

THAI AIRWAYS International's performance has shown signs of improvement, suggesting that the worst is over at the national carrier and it is ready to bounce back, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripituk.

He made the remark after he and Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong visited THAI headquarters yesterday as part of a follow-up on the performances of state enterprises under the Finance Ministry.

THAI will announce its 2015 financial results late this month.

THAI executive vice president for commercial Teerapol Chotithanapibal said that next month the carrier would announce a step-by-step cut in its fuel surcharge as part of its target of bringing to zero. The policy will be implemented on selected routes, but he declined to elaborate.

Some international airlines recently announced plans to remove fuel surcharges, in response to low global oil prices.

Somkid instructed THAI to focus heavily on boosting operating efficiency to improve its competitive edge. The company also has to prepare a long-term aggressive business strategy to create growth over at least the next five years.

THAI is expected to announce such a strategy to the State Enterprise Policy Commission within two months.

Somkid said the government was ready to support THAI and it could invest in what it deemed necessary. However, its cost controls must not affect its service quality.

Apisak said THAI would work closely with relevant state authorities to bring in a greater number of tourists to Thailand. It also has to seek new profitable regional routes and try to cover all key ASEAN routes and destinations.

Apisak believes that if THAI achieves all its goals, it will return to profitability this year.

THAI is one of seven state enterprises undergoing rehabilitation based on orders from the State Enterprise Policy Commission.

THAI's rehab plan is divided into three phases - the "stop bleeding" plan last year, the "strength building" plan this year, and next year's "sustainable growth" plan.