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Asia Minute: Airlines in Asia Scrambling for Financial Survival

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The timing of a broad return of tourism to Hawaii remains a question mark.  Some airlines are betting that by next summer demand will increase for mainland routes to the islands. But airlines around the world are struggling—and some in the Asia Pacific are announcing new plans for survival.

Thailand’s national airline got court clearance Monday to restructure its debt. By the end of June, the liabilities of Thai Airways topped ten billion dollars — and conditions have gotten worse since then.

With the exception of a few charters, international commercial flights have been closed down since early April.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific started the week by announcing 40% of its passenger fleet will be grounded for “the foreseeable future.” In August, the airline’s planes flew with more than 80% of its passenger seats empty — a record low.

Cathay’s Executive Director says, “we simply will not survive unless we adapt our airlines for the new travel market” — adding that details of a restructuring plan will be announced soon.

Just last week, Singapore Airlines announced it is cutting about 20% of its staff, or about 4,300 jobs.

The Straits Times reports employees were told they will be paid through mid-December, and given an additional month of pay for each year served — capped at 25 months.

It’s not just international travel that’s hurting airlines. Japan Airlines cut roughly a third of its domestic flights this month — while All Nippon Airways has cut nearly 45% of its flights within Japan.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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