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NEWS UPDATES 15 June 2010

Thai economy, Thai Air upbeat

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The Thai economy is likely to grow 4.5-5.5 percent this year despite being adversely affected by political mayhem in May, according to a top executive in the agricultural sector, the Thai News Agency reports.

Ajva Taulananda, vice chairman of the Charoen Pokhaphand Group, said although there was political unrest in May, the Thai economic conditions had not been greatly impacted as expected by the disruption because Thailand's economic fundamentals remain strong.

Because of this, he believed, unless there is further political violence this year, the economy will expand 4.5-5.5 per cent, boosted by increased exports.

He said all Thai people needed to cooperate with each other to help rehabilitate Thailand and boost reconciliation in Thai society.

In economic terms, he said, the government must step up to restore tourism and confidence as soon as possible and focus on agricultural and transport development, he added.

He said the CP group had been affected by the political mayhem, but only minimally because it had various businesses locally and overseas as part of its effort to diversify investment risks.

In a related development, Thai Airways International (THAI) president Piyasavasti Amranand said the airline's cabin factor, or ratio of seats filled, increased in June by almost 70 percent after tourists began returning to Thailand following the reduced political tension.

Mr Piyasavasti said he is therefore confident that travelers will come back at the previous rate in the third and fourth quarters, which is Thailand's high season.

He admitted that the political chaos in May seriously affected the airline business. During the period, THAI experienced losses of about Bt3 billion (US$92 million), while its cabin factor has sharply dropped to only 59 percent, which he said was quite low.

Concerning the continued current imposition of the emergency decree, the THAI chief said it would not affect tourism if the understanding was made clear to tourists that the decree would help ensure safety for the public.

Meanwhile, THAI's executive vice president for Commercial Department, Pruet Boobphakam, said the national carrier has recently cooperated with Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) together with five-star hotels and entrepreneurs in the Ratchaprasong area to hold a 3-day tour in July bringing around 700-800 foreign correspondents and representatives of international travel agents to Thailand.

The trip would be at no cost to the foreign correspondents and travel agents, who will spend one night at a hotel in Ratchaprasong. In order to show them that Thailand's situation has returned to normal, all guests will later be accompanied to experience different other Thai regions such as in the northern province of Chiang Mai, the southern resort island of Phuket and the northeastern province of Khon Kaen.

Mr. Pruet said THAI will soon hold a news conference on the matter with TAT.

Moreover, THAI has increased the number of flights on its newly-acquired Boeing 777 to offer passengers on the Bangkok-Paris and Bangkok-Tokyo routes and vice versa to attract potential travelers from both destinations.

Moreover, THAI has increased the number of flights on its newly acquired Boeing 777 to offer passengers on the Bangkok-Paris and Bangkok-Tokyo routes and vice versa to attract potential travelers from both destinations.


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