Realizing that Thailand domestic tourism is almost completely halted, Thai Air Asia has decided to give three-quarters of its employees unpaid leave for at least 4 months, starting from February.
On Monday (January 18), Thai Air Asia said only 25 percent of its workforce would be kept after its downsizing in January to match the current travel demand, according to Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman of Asia Aviation Plc (AAV), the airline’s largest shareholder.
As of September 2020, its staff-related expenses accounted for 18% of total operating costs, the second-highest after jet fuel costs. Meanwhile, the low-cost airline currently has 62 aircraft but only 10 of them are in operation due to the decline in demand since last April. In the first nine months of 2020, Thai Air Asia carried only 6.68 million passengers, dropping 60% compared to the same period in 2019. This is most likely the reason why the airline is forced to give its staff a break. salary within 4 months.
The Bangkok Post quoted Mr. Tassapon Bijleveld: “Before the Covid-19 resurgence, we had 40 planes serving domestic flights. But since the re-emerging of the outbreak, some provincial lockdowns have made it impossible for people to travel and passenger demand has dropped significantly at every airport.”
As planned, three out of four Thai Air Asia staff are going take unpaid leave for 4 months from February. This is the largest furlough from Thai Air Asia ever; however, the airline assured that it has no plans to lay off employees.
According to Thai Air Asia, the furlough should allow the employees to find other revenue sources while waiting for the market to recover and return to work.
“The international market should recover in the last quarter of this year, but only slowly. Half of the global population must be vaccinated before international travel can resume,” said Mr Tassapon.