Methods sought to ease airlines’ liquidity crunch

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Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has instructed the Fiscal Policy Office and the Bank of Thailand to jointly seek ways to relax some of the criteria for state banks to lend to domestic airlines to improve their liquidity.

He said both offices should speed up their decisions to help the airlines improve their liquidity during the prolonged Covid-19 outbreak.

Mr Arkhom said some government rules might make it difficult for state banks to provide financial assistance to airlines.

For example, if airline operators have already secured loans from commercial banks, then state banks were later to provide loans to the same airlines, the state banks would have to hold talks with the commercial banks regarding the details of how the state banks should proceed, he said.

Easing these kinds of rules would make it easier for financial institutions to lend to airlines, said Mr Arkhom.

He believes once the country eases lockdown measures, people will travel more, generating revenue for airlines.

The minister expects the government to ease lockdown measures in the third and fourth quarters this year to revive economic activities, which will benefit airlines.

A ministry source who requested anonymity said the ministry assigned the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim Bank) as the main state bank to provide liquidity to the airline industry.

Exim Bank set loan conditions for accessing funds that require airlines to maintain their current staffing levels in operational areas until the end of this year.

The bank has two lending options for airlines, with the first a provision of one of its own loans.

The second option is the utilisation of a loan the Social Security Fund has provided to any of Exim Bank’s borrowers, which the bank would make available to the airlines, said the source.