Thai Airways International’s losses widened by Bt3.4 billion ($109 million) to Bt12.4 billion in 2019, as revenues fell despite increased passenger numbers.

Operating revenue declined by 7.7% to Bt184 billion, as passenger revenue fell 7% to Bt149 billion while the cargo segment plunged 20.4% to Bt17.8 billion.

Among the factors cited by the carrier are the civil unrest in Hong Kong, suspension of its Pakistan services due to airspace closure, strong competition from low-cost and Middle Eastern operators, and impact from the US-China trade war.

Even though passenger numbers gained 1% to 24.5 million, yields fell by 6.8% to Bt2.04 due to currency losses. With RPKs down 1% against a 2.7% decline in ASKs, load factor gained 1.5 points to 79.1%.

Total operating expenses declined 5.8% to Bt196 billion, on lower fuel costs and other operating expenses.

Despite the sharp decline in operating losses, net loss widened by just Bt417 million to Bt12 billion in 2019, largely due Bt4.4 billion “gain on foreign currency exchange”.

As at 31 December 2019, cash and cash equivalents amounted to Bt21.7 billion, up from Bt13.7 billion one year before.

The airline’s fleet remained unchanged at 103 aircraft, including the 20 Airbus A320s operated by its subsidiary Thai Smile. It has also put up 15 Airbus and Boeing jets for sale.

Looking ahead, Thai says the impact of the coronavirus has pushed the carrier to reduce flights and it is in the process of establishing a working group to monitor the situation. Other negative factors include the US-China trade war, political uncertainties after Brexit, and USA-Iran conflicts.

The Star Alliance member will focus on raising revenue through greater digitalisation and use of data, effective cost control, as well as improving operational efficiency by expediting the stalled aircraft acquisition plan and selling older aircraft. It is also working on a long-term plan to reduce debts.