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Thai Airways submits bankruptcy request, court says

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Airways International Pcl on Tuesday submitted a request to a bankruptcy court for rehabilitation of its debt, the court said, which if approved would give the airline time to negotiate with its creditors.

FILE PHOTO: Thai Airways airplanes are parked at the tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand March 25, 2020 REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

Earlier this month, Thailand’s cabinet approved a plan to restructure the company. Along with all airlines, Thai Airways has been hard hit by the impact of the novel coronavirus.

“Thai Airways submitted a request for rehabilitation with the Central Bankruptcy Court .... the court is reviewing the documents before accepting the request,” the court’s public relations office told Reuters.

Approval would allow an automatic stay on debt repayment, allowing negotiation with creditors.

Even before the coronavirus led to the grounding of flights across the globe, Thai Airways was in difficulty.

It posted losses every year after 2012, except in 2016 and for 2019 reported losses of 12.04 billion baht ($377.3 million).

On Monday, the airline appointed four new board members, including its former chief executive, Piyasvasti Amranand, who ran the airline from 2009 to 2012.

Last week, the government reduced its shareholding in the national carrier to 47.86%, ending the airline’s status as a state enterprise under Thai law.

But as majority shareholder, the government still has a say.

On Tuesday, Thailand’s cabinet appointed deputy minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to lead a committee to represent the government in the rehabilitation process, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat; editing by Barbara Lewis