Thai AirAsia, a joint venture of Malaysian low-fare airline AirAsia and Thailand's Asia Aviation, is set to put 75% of its staff on unpaid leave starting from February 2021.

Instead of laying the employees off, Thai AirAsia plans to request 75% of staff to take an unpaid leave option in order to cut costs while the airline deals with financial difficulties and looks for new sources of income, Santisuk Klongchaiya, the CEO of the airline, explained to local media.

Thai AirAsia’s unpaid leave program would divide the staff into two groups. For those employees, who had already taken unpaid leave in 2020 and were scheduled to return to work after March 2021, the unpaid leave would be extended by two months until May 2021.

Meanwhile, 75% of the staff who have been actively working despite the first wave of pandemic related travel restrictions, would be asked to take unpaid leave until May 2021. 

Speaking to Thai Enquirer on January 19, 2021, Klongchaiya outlined that the ongoing pandemic outbreak would not take longer than the previous wave and the financial situation of the airline would “gradually improve“. However, the CEO of Thai AirAsia did not specify the exact quantity of the workforce involved in the latest airline’s decision. According to the latest Asia Aviation annual report, the air carrier had almost 6,000 employees in 2019.

Tassapon Bijleveld, the Chairman of Asia Aviation,  said that the airline hoped to receive governmental financial injections in April 2020, but instead of waiting for the state’s approval for support, the air carrier was trying to secure loans from banks by itself.

According to Planespotters.com data, Thai AirAsia has a total of 62 aircraft in the fleet, consisting of 60 Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 jets. Due to a sharp decrease in passenger demand, it operates only a small part of the fleet or 22 planes. 

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Like many other airlines around the world, Thai Airways was forced to ask for a helping hand from its home government to ensure liquidity going into the future.