BANGKOK — The financial troubles at Thai Airways International, which were so deep it needed court-supervised rehabilitation, were caused by the national flag carrier’s own management and workers ripping the company off, an investigation panel commissioned by Thailand’s Ministry of Transport has found.
The panel’s findings will be considered during Thai Airways’ rehabilitation proceedings at the country’s bankruptcy court. The report and its findings were submitted on Tuesday to the Ministry of Finance, the biggest shareholder of the state-affiliated airline. According to Thai Airways, the ministry is a major creditor of the airline as well.
On Sept. 14, the Central Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to decide whether to allow Thai Airways’ board members and consultancy firm EY Corporate Advisory Services to start writing its own rehabilitation plan. The carrier filed a petition to rehabilitate under the court’s supervision in May.
If allowed, the plan is expected to be drawn up by early next year for approval by the court and Thai Airways’ creditors. It needs the endorsement of holders of at least 50% of the airline’s debt. The panel’s findings should give a grounding for creditors, especially the Finance Ministry, on what should be endorsed in the rehabilitation plan.
“The main cause of this chronic issue is the procurement of 10 aircraft: [Airbus] A340-500s and A340-600s,” said Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam. Thaworn worked with the investigation panel led by Chanthep Sesavej, the former commander of the country’s Metropolitan Police.
“Once in operation, [Thai Airways] has been making losses [on these aircraft] since their inaugural Bangkok to New York flight in July 2005 up until their decommission in 2013 and [they] remain a burden for maintenance costs even today,” he added.