Thai Airways (THAI) reported a 2019 third-quarter net loss of THB4.7 billion ($152.7 million), widened from a THB3.7 billion loss in the year-ago period.

Third-quarter operating revenue also declined to THB46 billion, down 4% from THB48 billion.

The poor result came despite a 3% cut in operating costs to THB50.8 billion. The airline had previously said it would reduce nonessential expenses and reduce salary of top executives, although the report did show an increase in employee benefits and crew expenses.  

Thai Airways’ other secondary income did get a slight help from THB2 billion collected from airport fees, which is now reflected in the reports.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, THAI president Sumeth Damrongchaitham described the results as “normal” for an airline facing stiff competition.

The airline carried 6.6 million passengers during the period, up 0.8% year-over-year (YOY). Passenger growth outpaced capacity, resulting load factor improvements of 2.5 points to 80%.

Sumeth estimates losses will narrow to THB2 billion for 4Q, which is the traditional high season for Thailand as visitors from temperate countries flock to the Kingdom. He believes the airline will return to profit by 2020.

The country’s tourism numbers were severely impact by the steep drop in arrivals from China, and to some extent, Europe. 

THAI had requested help from the government to fund its plan to procure 38 new aircraft  for replacement and growth, but has put that plan on hold after being asked to review its fleet strategy.  

Chen Chuanren,