Thai Lion Air is letting people go as low-cost airlines prepare to resume domestic operations

The state-owned Thai Airways International (THAI) will be bailed out one way or another but privately owned airlines, such as Thai Lion Air and Air Asia, will be left to their own resources, according to industry insiders.  

Thai Lion Air

Thai Lion Air (TLA), a subsidiary of Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air, sent a letter earlier in March notifying some of their employees that the company will no longer be requiring their services. 

The group of employees are people whose current employment does not match with the current situation, said Nuntaporn Komonsittivate, Head of Commercial Affairs at TLA. 

The airline has suspended all operations in Thailand since March and is hoping to resume services on May 1. Around 120 employees with less than one year of experience will now be let go.

The airline has already laid off 169 members of its staff in March having reduced the number of aircraft operating in Thailand from 34 to 17. 

Nuntaporn insisted they will resume operations after the end of the State of Emergency and said they will first consider applications from ex-employees once normal services are resumed.

The airline, along with seven others, did say they will be forced to let people go if the government does not give them a soft loan of approximately 3 billion baht each.

Other airlines, including THAI’s subsidiary Thai Smile Airways, are also asking for a similar amount after the government announced they will bail out Thai Airways.

Air Asia 

In contrast, Air Asia announced last week its new flight plan. The company expects to resume domestic operations on May 1.

For international flights, the company will have to wait for the government to ease further restrictions.

Air Asia Group president airlines, Bo Lingam, said they have added preventative measures against the possible spread of the coronavirus on resumed flights, both on the ground and in their planes, based on guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organisation. 

For example, all passengers must wear a facemask, take care of their personal hygiene and adhere to social distancing measures. For airports, the airline has installed air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to pre-clean passengers after each flight. 


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