Exclusive: AirAsia Group’s downsizing of employees will not impact Thai branch’s operation

A representative from Thai AirAsia (TAA) told Thai Enquirer on Friday that AirAsia Group’s plan to reduce its workforce will not affect employees in Thailand.

Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday that the group is planning to reduce up to 30 per cent of its 20,000 employees, while founder Tony Fernandes is mulling over selling 10 per cent of his shares to raise money. 

The group is also cutting staff salaries between 15-75 per cent to “save the airline,” the publication added.

“The cut will not affect TAA’s employees as we are sticking to our current policy,” said the representative, who also pointed out that TAA has yet to let any of its 5,800 employees go during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The plan to raise funds is also not related to AAV,” she added for clarification as the SET-listed Asia Aviation (AAV) own TAA. 

Nikkei Asian Review said the layoffs will include 60 per cent of AirAsia’s cabin crew and pilots for both AirAsia and its medium-haul AirAsia X. The layoff is expected to continue through to the end of July.

However, the publication did not identify where else the cut was being made.

The group is currently operating in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, and India. 

Executive chairman of AAV Tassapon Bijleveld told the Bangkok Post in May that the ongoing pay cut and furlough initially planned for March to September is likely to extend to December. 

This includes a 75 per cent cut of his own salary and a 25 per cent pay cut of more than 1,000 pilots. He also insisted in May that the TAA will not let any of its staff go or shrink the size of its fleet of 60 aircrafts.   

Tassapon did say, however, that the company was looking for a merger with several domestic budget carriers in an attempt to survive the pandemic.

TAA’s representative told Thai Enquirer that the airline has been flying domestically since May.

So far, 37 of its flights have resumed operations to 16 destinations including the latest routes to Krabi, Nan and Buriram, which reopened in June. 

Prior to the outbreak, forty per cent of the airline’s revenue came from flights in southern Thailand passing through Phuket airport but the airport is currently on lockdown until June 15. 

TAA reported the total revenue in the first quarter at 9.4 billion baht, down by 19 per cent year-on-year with a net loss of 671 million baht in the same period of time.

Malaysia’s Star newspaper also claimed that South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, SK Corp, is interested in buying up AirAsia Group’s shares at 1 Ringgit per share which could approximately raise US$78.4 million for the airline.  

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