BANGKOK: Thai Airways International reported yesterday its first quarterly loss in two years after the SARS outbreak paralysed Asian travel earlier this year.
But analysts had expected the airline, a barometer of the health of Thailand’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry, to post a loss and forecast a return to profit as tourism rebounds and passengers take to the air again.
In its third quarter ended June 30, Thai Airways, which flies to 34 countries, was hit by a sharp drop in passengers due to SARS and higher jet fuel prices in the wake of the Iraq war.
As a result, the airline reported a net loss of 1.27 billion baht (US$30.5mil) for the quarter compared with a net profit of 3.45 billion baht in its third quarter last year. The carrier’s last net quarterly loss was 1.73 billion baht in the October–December period of 2000.
“The loss is not that ugly,” said analyst Kavee Chukitkasem of Capital Nomura Securities here. “We are still optimistic about the airline, given a rebound in its passenger numbers.”
The 93% state-owned airline said third-quarter revenue from sales and services fell 24.2% from a year earlier to 23.68 billion baht, but it had foreign exchange gains of 1.49 billion baht, which helped offset some of the loss.
Analysts say they expect Thai Airways to return to profitability in the fourth quarter ending Sept 30 and forecast healthy earnings of eight billion to 10 billion baht for the full year. – Reuters