Creditors approve restructuring plan for troubled Thai Airways

BANGKOK, May 19 (Reuters) - Thai Airways International's (THAI.BK) creditors have voted to approve the airline's restructuring plan, the flag carrier said on Wednesday, as it seeks to recover from financial problems suffered long before the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, a court approved the airline's request for bankruptcy protection and debt restructuring worth about 245 billion baht ($7.80 billion)

The plan will allow for an extension on bond payments, interest and the option for debt-to-equity conversion, said Somboon Sangrungjang of law firm Kudun and Partners, which represents creditors including 87 savings cooperatives.

The creditors proposed the appointment of finance ministry official Pornchai Thirawet, acting Thai Airways CEO Chansin Treenuchagron and former chief Piyasvasti Amranand, as plan administrators, the airline said on Wednesday.

Piyasvasti was CEO of Thai Airways the last time it was profitable.

Two others were also proposed by Bangkok Bank Pcl (BBL.BK).

The Thai government holds a 47.86% stake in the carrier, but it is not governed by the country's state-enterprise law.

The airline was in difficulty well before the coronavirus pandemic grounded flights across the globe, booking losses nearly every year after 2012.

It has blamed competition from low-cost carriers and an open skies policy for the poor performance. Last year it booked a record loss of 141.1 billion baht ($4.66 billion).

So far, it has cut some 200 executive positions and sold a training facility in Bangkok to state-owned oil and gas firm, PTT Pcl (PTT.BK) for 1.8 billion baht.

The carrier in March said it plans to fly a slightly leaner fleet with 86 jets by 2025 from current levels of 103. Thai Airways says it has cut 30 billion baht ($954.5 million) in expenses.

It had already began implementing early retirement programmes to reduce staff to a target of under 15,000 from 28,000 in 2019.

($1 = 31.4200 baht)

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.