BANGKOK — The labor union of Thailand’s debt-ridden flag carrier said on Thursday it no longer opposed the government’s bailout proposal, which could see the airline losing its state enterprise status.
In a petition filed to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday, the Thai Airways International Union said it is willing to accept the government’s rehabilitation measures amid speculation that the agency may soon declare bankruptcy.
“The union feels grateful for the Prime Minister’s attentiveness to us and our organization, which is the national carrier,” the statement wrote. “Therefore, in order for the rehabilitation plans to be approved by the state enterprise policy committee, the union and its members are willing to cooperate with the Prime Minister.”
“We trust the prime minister’s ability to solve this problem for Thai Airways,” the statement continued.
The relatively toned down move came after PM Prayut signalled on Wednesday that he may instruct the airline to file for bankruptcy as a last resort.
“We are currently working on the airline’s rehabilitation plans,” Prayut said. “We are currently looking into the law finding a way to fix it. If there are other means, that’s good. But if there is none, we may have to enter into a legal proceeding, which is to file for bankruptcy.”
None of the Cabinet members were able to confirm Prayut’s threat. Finance minister Uttama Savanayana said Wednesday that bankruptcy is one of the options for the Cabinet to consider, while deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam deferred reporter’s questions to finance and transport ministers.
Details of the bailout package are yet to be finalized and forwarded to the Cabinet, PM Prayut said Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting. He also urged the Thai Airways union to cooperate with the government in order for the measures to go ahead.
The union had previously opposed the government’s bailout proposal as they feared that it would strip the government’s majority shares in the airline, turning it into a privately-held company. They said it could expose the airline to interference from “outside interests.”
According to the Public Debt Management Office, the airline is carrying a total debt of 224.8 billion baht.