Major airlines in Thailand suffered a fall in net profits as the US-China trade war, higher competition, and the appreciation of the Thai Baht affected profitability.
Thai Airways recorded a net loss of $26.2 million in Q1, 2019. It had recorded a net profit of $121 million in the first quarter of 2018. Thai Airways’ President Sumeth Damrongchaitham told the media that the southeast Asian airline’s performance was partly affected by lower revenue passenger kilometres, Thai Baht appreciation, and intense competition. Thai Airways reported that its cargo-based income fell 12.9 percent in the first quarter due to the effects of the US-China trade war and pricing competition.
Meanwhile, the Thai airline also benefitted from the Thailand government’s strategy to attract more tourists. Arrivals of Chinese tourists is also picking up.
Other Thai airlines also suffered a drop in profits. Nok Airlines posted a net loss of $12.4 million in Q1 2019 compared to a net loss of $37,000 in the corresponding period last year. Profit at Bangkok Airways, a full-service carrier, dropped 29 percent to $16 million in Q1 2019 from $22.7 million in Q1 2018.
Thailand’s national airline Thai Airways also had only 90 aircraft in service at the end of the first quarter compared to 94 in the same period last year. Having less aircraft in operation and carrying a lesser number of passengers affected Thai Airways’ revenue for the first quarter of 2019.
After excluding the 20 aircraft of its subsidiary Thai Smile, the southeast Asian airline had only 70 aircraft in service.