Thai Airways returns to profit in fourth quarter

Thai counter in BKK Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thai Airways stopped its operations to Los Angeles - its only US destination - on 25 October.

Thai Airways has posted a profit in the three months to December, reversing its fortunes from the same period a year ago and softening its full-year losses.

Quarterly net profit came to 5.1bn Thai baht ($141.7m) compared to a 6.4bn baht loss a year earlier, officials confirmed with the BBC.

Full year net loss was 13.05bn baht compared to 15.57bn a year ago.

The national carrier has been struggling amid an increasingly competitive regional marketplace.

The carrier, which is 51% government owned, has been committed to turnaround plans, which have been in place for about 12 months.

Its operating losses for the full year were substantially reduced, which the carrier said was due in part to a 20% decrease in fuel expenses.

'Stop the bleeding'

On Monday, Thai Airways said that the world's aviation industry had continued to face several headwinds in 2015 including "from economic and political uncertainty [and] the global economic recession".

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Image caption Over the last year, Thai Airways has reduced the number of flights it operates and cut unprofitable routes

It noted China's slowdown, "a heavy expansion" of low-cost airlines, and exchange rate fluctuations as some of the reasons for the industry's struggles.

Thai Airways' so-called transformation plan was introduced in January last year and was designed to "stop the bleeding", the firm said on Monday.

Over the last year, the carrier has reduced the number of flights it operates and cut unprofitable routes, amid other cost saving measures. The firm said it would also focus on voluntary retirements this year.

It decommissioned several planes in 2015 and received eight new ones, bringing its fleet size to 95 aircraft, down from 102 a year earlier.

Safety concerns

On Monday, Thai Airways also addressed concerns over its international flight safety reputation and said it had not been affected by recent downgrades for Thailand's aviation industry.

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Image caption Thailand's aviation body was 'red flagged' for failing to meet the ICAO safety standards

In December last year, the US downgraded its safety rating of Thailand's aviation authority following earlier findings by the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that Thailand did not comply with ICAO's safety standards.

At the time, aviation experts said the national flag-carrier's code share agreements in the US could be hurt, however, the airline said it had not been affected by the downgrade.

Thai Airways also said the European Commission had not recently added any Thai airlines to its air safety blacklist.

The national flag carrier added that it had recently passed the safety standards audit by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

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