Thai Airways warns of steeper-than-expected Q1 loss due to political unrest

BANGKOK, April 21 Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:31am EDT

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BANGKOK, April 21 (Reuters) - Thai Airways International Pcl warned on Monday of a steeper-than-expected first-quarter net loss as passenger numbers fell due to prolonged political unrest in Thailand and fierce competition from low-cost carriers.

"First quarter net loss will be higher than what we had expected by 30 million baht," acting president Chokchai Panyayong told reporters after a board meeting. He did not give an exact figure for the anticipated loss.

Passenger numbers in March alone dropped almost 21 percent from the same month a year ago to 1.59 million, he said.

The number of seats sold in the first quarter also fell to 71.1 percent from 79.8 percent a year earlier, with March seeing a year-on-year drop of 11.6 percentage points to 68.7 percent.

Thai Airways, the country's national carrier, posted a third successive quarter of losses in the fourth quarter after a falling baht hit revenue and anti-government protests deterred foreign tourists, especially from China, Japan and South Korea.

(Reporting by Manunphattr Dhanananphorn; Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Miral Fahmy)