With the pandemic, it had been 19 months since my last pint in a Bangkok pub and as I sat there it all seemed so normal, so real as though nothing had passed. As though nothing was different.
But it most definitely was different, the arrival of Covid-19 was an event of such magnitude that no one was spared. As I sat sipping my pint my thoughts turned to the future. What lay in store for the industry I had been involved in for more than 4 decades. In 2019 in a world unaffected by the coronavirus, Thailand welcomed 39.9 million tourists from across the globe. This year the industry forecasts it will be difficult to reach 6 million for 2021. A drop of 85%.
Tourism is a major economic contributor to the Kingdom. Estimates of tourism revenue directly contributing to the GDP, according to Wikipedia, range from one trillion baht (2013) to 2.53 trillion baht (2016), the equivalent of 9% to 17.7% of GDP. And according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) in 2019, the tourism sector was projected to grow and in the next ten years would account for 30% of GDP by 2030, up from 20% in 2019.
These forecasts however have been adversely affected by the pandemic, NESDC confirms the actual figures for Thailand’s GDP contracted 6.1% in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Lease and hire purchase contracts on 16 aircraft were scrapped and 42 fuel-inefficient aircraft are up for sale, 38 operational planes remain, of four rather than nine types. Another 20 A320s continue to operate under the subsidiary low-cost airline, Thai Smile, giving the group 58 aircraft photo: A brand new A350 back in 2016 /AJWood
Last month Thai Airways announced they will sell off 42 planes and reduce its workforce by almost one-third as it continues restructuring the business. Piyasvasti Amranand, head of the restructuring efforts, said planes being sold are older less efficient models and it will return 16 jets to lessors.
That will leave Thai Airways with a fleet of 58 planes. The workforce will be cut from 21,300 to 14,500 by December 2022. The airline is also in talks with the government for an additional 25 billion baht loan.