Thai Airways management proposed that the Finance Ministry, which currently holds 51%, reduce its stake in the carrier to allow for more flexibility in conducting business overseas (The Nation, 02-Jun-2011). Permanent secretary Areepong Bhoocha-oom said the ministry agreed with the proposal in principle but there had been no mention on the extent of the dilution of its stake, "however, the ministry should control at least 30-40%". State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo) director-general Somchai Sujjapongse said the Finance Ministry had also discussed diluting its shareholding, adding: "If THAI wants to be privatised and it can raise funds by itself as it has strong financial status, we [the authority] are ready. However, at the moment it is just talk, they have not come up with a concrete plan."
Thai Airways wants ministry to cut stake
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Southeast Asian airlines are seeking to capture a larger share of the Southeast Asia-US market over the next few years as they launch new flights to the US. Three of the region’s flag carriers and at least one long haul LCC are planning to launch flights to the US, intensifying competition in an already fiercely competitive market.
Southeast Asian airlines currently account for less than a 20% share of the total Southeast Asia-US market. Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines are the only significant players in this market and are aiming to increase their share as they add new nonstop routes. Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines are also keen to become significant players as they launch flights to the US, replacing their now limited offline products.
However, market share gains will likely come at the expense of yields and profitability as competition with North Asian airlines – and to some extent US and Gulf carriers – intensifies. North Asian airlines now account for more than 50% of bookings in the Southeast Asia-US market and have increased their reliance on Southeast Asian connections as they have added US capacity, resulting in very competitive fares.
LOT Polish Airlines: now restructured, and long haul focus is on 2020 growth. Partnerships critical
On 8-Sep-2016 LOT Polish Airlines announced its "2020 profitable growth strategy". This involves a goal to achieve "sustainable viability", after a restructuring programme which returned LOT to operating profit in 2014 after six loss-making years. Its privatisation may even be back on the agenda.
LOT currently ranks behind LCCs Ryanair and Wizz Air by share of traffic in Poland, which offers superior traffic growth potential versus Europe as a whole. The airline aims to increase passenger numbers from 4.3 million in 2015 to 10 million in 2020, growing its fleet from 43 to 70 aircraft. LOT's expansion will focus on long haul, particularly North America and Asia, where it currently has only five routes and where competition is considerably lower than on short/medium haul. Initial plans include the launch of Warsaw-Seoul this winter and a return to Warsaw-New York Newark next summer.
According to data from LOT, its restructuring has left it with a fairly efficient cost base by legacy airline standards and this will be important in competing with LCCs (but there is still a cost gap with LCCs). LOT's growth will focus on long haul but will need short-haul European feed – and partnerships. Although LOT no longer appears to be considering leaving the Star Alliance, it remains excluded from American and Asian JVs. Further, those JVs preclude members from working with LOT. Partnership growth will be as critical as it will be challenging.