Thai Airways has dismissed a report that it is at risk of being shut down, arguing that local media had "misconstrued messages conveyed in a meeting" with airline staff.
The Bangkok Post on 22 October quoted Thai Airways president Sumeth Damrongchaitham as saying: "The competition is very fierce this year. Thai is really in a crisis. Next year, it must do its best. If staff are still unaware and do nothing, they will not have enough time to fight back. Today very little time remains. Today there is no comfort zone. Everyone will die if the vessel sinks."
In the flag carrier's clarifying statement, the staff meeting is described as one "intended to bring about employee awareness of the highly competitive state of the airline industry and Thai's competitive stance in the market".
The airline says its president "clearly emphasised the importance and urgent necessity of overcoming obstacles in conducting airline business". It adds: "Thai staff were urged to take heed of how heavy airline competition remains in all areas of business, low cost-carrier competition, air fare promotions, and 'cut-throat' route competition in certain markets."
In speaking to staff, Damrongchaitham was seeking "to motivate them to take immediate action to cut costs and boost profits" and "to act as a combined force to maintain competitive edge", Thai asserts.
Citing its "capability to perform exceptionally amidst tough airline competition", it declares itself to be "very far from shutting down".
During the second quarter ended 30 June, the Star Alliance carrier's operating loss more than doubled to Bt7.11 billion ($235 million), as a small improvement in its operating expenses failed to offset lower revenues across its cargo and passenger segments.
Revenue across the group fell 10% to Bt42.5 billion, while the net loss doubled to Bt6.9 billion.