Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thailand's AOT chief airs expansion plans

Newly appointed Airports of Thailand (AOT) president Serirat Prasutanond yesterday announced he would focus on raising non-aviation revenue and developing facilities at Suvarnabhumi Airport as his first priorities.

The Bt77-billion airport development is expected to take six years and is aimed at increasing passenger-handling capacity from 45 million to 80 million. The domestic-terminal project will last from next year to 2013 and include a third runway. The second phase of the expansion project is scheduled for 2011-16.

After signing a contract appointing him as AOT president effective tomorrow, Serirat said he would restore employees' confidence in the company.

"I will speed up commercial activities at airports by hiring consultants to conduct feasibility studies of planned projects this year," he said, adding that authorities could therefore launch terms of reference to invite private-sector participation in the projects.

At Suvarnabhumi Airport, projects include a community mall, land development on 600 rai south of the airport, warehouse construction and a service centre for automobiles.

At Don Meuang Airport, projects includes a terminal and maintenance facilities for private jets and an aviation-training centre.

For Chiang Mai Airport, a duty-free-zone bonded warehouse will be established

For Phuket Airport, the authority plans to build a terminal for private jets.

AOT posted first-half revenue of Bt11.14 billion, down 10.84 per cent from the same period last year. Its first-half net profit was Bt153.61 million, down 95.61 per cent.-

Thailand expects foreign visitors to surge

2010 TOURISM FORECAST

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects 14 million foreign tourists to visit Thailand next year, and with an expected 90 million trips by domestic holidaymakers, it believes tourism will enjoy total revenue of Bt960 billion in 2010.

The number of inbound tourists will represent a 5.6-per-cent increase over this year's expected 13.2 million visitors. International tourists are expected to generate revenue of Bt540 billion next year, up 6.4 per cent from this year's targeted revenue of Bt530 billion from inbound visitors

Officials in China yesterday withdrew that country's official warning against travel to Thailand, following Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's visit last week. The move is expected to draw more than 100,000 Chinese tourists to Thailand in the remaining months of this year.

Acting TAT governor Pensuda Priaram said the agency would concentrate on attracting tourists from two potential markets next year: South Asia and the Middle East. These regions have suffered less than others from the global economic crisis.

"In 2010, the TAT hopes to attract 823,000 tourists from South Asia, up 13 per cent, generating revenue of Bt25 billion, up 15.4 per cent. As well, 450,000 tourists from the Middle East are expected to visit Thailand, spending about Bt19 billion," Pensuda said.

The TAT hopes arrivals from all over Asia will grow 3.8 per cent next year to 6.9 million visitors, bringing revenue of Bt162 billion.

Some 4.7 million tourists from Europe are expected next year, generating revenue of Bt237 billion. The number of visitors from the Americas and Oceania are also expected to grow, by 4.9 per cent and 4.2 percent, respectively, providing revenue of Bt46 billion and Bt37 billion.

However, visitors from East Asia, particularly Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong, are expected to drop 14.9 per cent to 6.7 million. Revenue from this source will fall 21.7 per cent to Bt156 billion. Tourists from Africa are also expected to plunge 17 per cent to only 90,000.

Suraphon Svetsreni, deputy governor for planning and policies, said to deal with Thailand's tourism crisis, the TAT would approach new markets by participating in international trade shows in Russia, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Canada, Japan, Iran, Oman, Jordan, Poland, Syria and the US.

Weerasak Kowsurat, chairman of TAT's board, said packaged tours would be introduced to attract transfer passengers waiting on stopovers at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The agency is also planning to approach niche markets like diving, youths, weddings, golf, shopping and senior tourists.

The government has extended the exemption on fees for tourist visa applications until next March 31. The exemption will apply to visa applications made on arrival at all international airports and at Thai embassies.

As well, booklets have been released detailing travel programmes lasting only 72 hours in popular destinations like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya.

Wansadet Thavornsuk, deputy governor for domestic markets, said the TAT planned to spend Bt500 million to boost domestic tourism next year. One measure will be encouraging public and private organisations to hold meetings and conferences within Thailand.

Santichai Euachongprasit, deputy governor for international marketing, said the TAT planned to open two new offices later this year, in Kunming, China and Mumbai, India. Next year, it plans a new office in Jakarta.

"We also plan to invite celebrities to Thailand to join highlighted events for positive coverage," he said.

Thai Hotels Association president Prakit Shinamourphong said an end to political unrest in Thailand would be a key factor in driving tourism over the coming year.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AirAsia abolishes admin fees

By: BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA

Published: 25/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Thai AirAsia has eliminated administration fees from its fares in its latest bid to attract cost-conscious passengers during the downturn in travel demand.

Thai AirAsia chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld (centre) and staff show off flyers announcing the removal of administration fee.

Abolishing the fee should cut the cost of travelling on the low-cost carrier by 65 baht for each leg of a domestic flight, and by 225-245 baht for each leg on international flights.

The airline claims it will absorb the fee rather than add it to seat fares. The initiative may trigger a new round of price wars among carriers.

The move should stimulate ticket sales, creating a volume that offsets the cost of absorbing the fees, chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said yesterday.

An increase in passenger numbers would also bring greater opportunities for generating revenue by boosting in-flight sales of food, drinks, souvenirs and duty-free products.

Although the savings made from cancelling the administration fee may appear small, a discount of one or two hundred baht will influence consumers' travel decisions, especially during the current downturn, said Mr Tassapon.

Abolishing the fee, which was brought into effect yesterday, is the latest tactic in a flood of marketing and promotional initiatives from Thai AirAsia. The carrier has increasingly introduced campaigns since plummeting travel demand hit the airline and tourism industry.

The no-frills carrier claims its passengers increased 15% year-on-year in the first four months of the year before falling in May and June.

But Mr Tassapon is confident the abolition of administration fees will now enable the airline to hit its target of 5.2 million passengers this year.

Removing the fee is part of the airline's bid to simplify its multi-tier fare structure and do away with the much-criticised "hidden costs" that have irked consumers, especially those unfamiliar with the low-cost airline model.

In November last year, Thai AirAsia, along with its sister carriers in Malaysia and Indonesia, dropped fuel surcharges, a major cost factor, on the back of declining jet fuel prices.The elimination of the administration fee came into effect for bookings made for all AirAsia and AirAsia X long-haul flights from yesterday. AirAsia.com now displays all-in fares (fare and airport tax) throughout the booking process.

Thai AirAsia is also launching a regional promotional-fare campaign, with 200,000 seats for all-inclusive one-way tickets, which start from 107 baht for domestic flights and 700 baht for international routes.

The promotional fares opened for online booking yesterday and will be available until Sunday for travel between Oct 1, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Thai AirAsia cuts fares

Thai AirAsia has reduced its fares by removing the ticket-booking fee from its fare structure in a move that should help the airline achieve its business goal this year and boost the country's tourism industry.

CEO Tassapon Bijleveld yesterday said the airline had over the past few months asked passengers to complete a questionnaire about their requirements.

Customers told the carrier that people still wanted to travel with the airline but at a more affordable price.

Thai AirAsia therefore decided to waive the ticket-booking fee, which is about Bt300 per passenger per trip, effective from yesterday. This applies to all bookings, whether or not they are made online.

Malaysian-based AirAsia early this year became the first airline in the world to do away with fuel |surcharges completely, as part of a strategy to increase passenger numbers.

"From now on, when customers open Thai AirAsia's homepage to reserve tickets, they will see only the fare and airport tax, which we have to collect from our passengers and pass to the airport operators. This strategy is what we call 'What You See Is What You Pay'.

"It will be easier and more transparent than in the past. Taking both the fuel surcharge and ticket-booking fee, we've now waived about Bt1,000 per passenger per trip.

This will make Thai AirAsia truly the lowest-cost airline in the world," Tassapon said.

Accompanying this announcement, the airline has launched a regional campaign offering cheaper fares, totalling 200,000 seats, on several routes for customers who book tickets until Sunday for travel between October 1 and next April 30.

Tassapon believes the booking-fee waiver will enable the carrier to achieve its goal of serving 5.2 million passengers this year.

"I also believe our big decision will boost the Thai tourism industry and that this will be good for all businesses, including hotels, resorts and restaurants," he said.

The CEO said Thai AirAsia's operating results for the first six months of the year were quite good, as passenger numbers were expected to grow by 12 per cent year on year. Revenue has also increased.

Passenger numbers from January to April increased by 15 per cent year on year but have fallen slightly in May and June, due to the type-A (H1N1) flu outbreak.

He said the airline's fare-reduction strategy was aimed at increasing passenger volume. A lower gross profit margin was not a problem as long as it could still make a net profit, he added.

"We can make a profit on some routes, such as Bali, Hong Kong, Phuket, Singapore and Krabi, but there will be losses on others. But we can still turn a net profit on our bottom line. That's why we can survive even though we've cut fares," he said.

Thai AirAsia plans to add another daily flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong in September and is considering opening a Bangkok-Taiwan route in the near future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thai cargo, passengers still down


Thailand's six main airports have reported ongoing falls in cargo and passenger traffic for April.

Total cargo shrank 25.9 per cent to 82,727 tonnes, passenger throughput dropped 12.1 per cent to 4.43 million and aircraft movements fell 9.9 per cent to 30,433, according to statistics compiled by Airports of Thailand. International air cargo movements contracted 26.5 per cent to 75,702 tonnes.

Traditionally, April is one of the peak holiday traffic months for the country. -Jack Handley

Thailand's TAT predicts bleak future

By: CHATRUDEE THEPARAT

Published: 23/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Rising oil prices and swine flu appear likely to hinder the recovery of the country's tourism industry into the next year, a senior tourism authority says.

"Next year will be another tough year for the tourism sector, as there are new factors such as higher oil prices and the H1N1 flu outbreak which have complicated matters for the industry's recovery," the Tourism Authority of Thailand chairman Weerasak Kohsurat said yesterday.

The TAT yesterday held a meeting to draw up a marketing plan for 2010.

The focus of the plan will be on how to maintain the country's major markets such as China, the European Union and Southeast Asia, while expanding into new markets such as the Middle East and South Asia, particularly India.

The country would also need to promote land transport, especially among Asean countries, to meet niche market demand in such areas as mass weddings, golf tours, discounted vacations at beauty and health spas, and medical tourism, for which Thailand is already well known.

"However, the issue of concern at the moment is how to ease the impact on local operators affected by the tourism slump," Mr Weerasak said.

Visa fee exemptions for foreign visitors have not been extended even though the cabinet approved extension until the end of the year.

Mr Weerasak said Thailand was facing its first drop in foreign visitor numbers in the range of 15% to 20%. Tourism revenue this year was expected to be down 20% to 25%.

He said the government needed to speed up the development of tourism-related projects.

Thailand's Airport-Bangkok link faces further delay

Strike ends after govt pledge of union's role in SRT reorganisation

The opening of the high-speed rail link between Suvarnabhumi Airport |and inner Bangkok, scheduled for December 5, could be further delayed following this week's strike by railroad workers.

Hundreds of State Railway of Thailand employees returned to work yesterday evening after paralysing much of the national rail service for 36 hours.

Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said the SRT labour union had agreed to end the strike following the government's pledge that the union would participate in reorganising the money-losing state agency.

The SRT is in the process of setting up two wholly owned companies: one for train operations and the other for real-estate management.

The company in charge of train operations will be responsible for running the 28.6-kilometre Airport Rail Link, which is due to open in December.

"I'm not sure if the rail link can still be opened as scheduled, because the process to form the SRT company will be halted until negotiations between the SRT union and the agency's top management are concluded," Transport Minister Sophon Saram said yesterday.

He said he hoped the talks would not be protracted and could be concluded within two weeks, or else the SRT would face greater financial damage.

IMAGE AT RISK

The country's international image would also take a further hit if the multibillion-baht elevated rail service between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the inner city did not start operation as scheduled, he added.

The high-speed rail service between the international airport - located in the suburbs of Bangkok - and Makkasan Station was originally due to open in August, but construction delays led to a postponement.

Leaders of the SRT union, which went on a selective wildcat strike on Monday morning, causing disruption to hundreds of thousands of commuters, said they were concerned the SRT would further privatise other routes of the national rail service.

Yesterday, the union entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government to end the strike on condition there be further negotiations between the two sides over the SRT's reorganisation.

The SRT has been losing money for years, with accumulated losses amounting to more than Bt70 billion.

Sanan said the SRT management would have to hold talks with the union, as the latter still lacked a clear understanding of the reorganisation plan aimed at boosting the agency's efficiency and reducing its chronic losses.

Sawit Kaewwan, president of the SRT union, said rail workers had needed to take the drastic action of the past two days in order to achieve the union's objective, even though many commuters were left stranded as a result.

Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pataraprasit said the SRT needed to be reorganised quickly, because the government had committed to investing Bt170 billion in more railroad projects over the next few years.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thailand's SGA Airlines remains in expansion mood

Siam General Aviation Co Ltd, the operator of SGA Airlines, sees continued travelling demand in the Northern routes despite the 20-25 per cent drop in overall passengers in the first five months of this year.

Jain Charnnarong, president, said the low-cost airline is planning to add flights for the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai route in July, from one daily flight to two. So far this year, it has cancelled some flights in some routes particularly the Bangkok-Hua Hin, as travellers prefer travelling to the destination by car. The airline also witnessed a slight drop in the number of passengers for Northern routes - Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Mai-Pai - but overall, the business potential remains bright. SGA will review in October if it will increase the flight frequency for the Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai-Pai routes.

SGA has joined hands with hotels in Pai and other districts of Mae Hong Son to promote travelling in the low season. Supporting this is the ongoing extension of the Pai Airport's runway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

India's Aviation Sector Faces Financial Crisis



19 June 2009

Air India's induction ceremony of new airbus A-319 during inauguration of 'India Aviation 2008' in Hyderabad, 15 Oct 2008
Air India's induction ceremony of new airbus A-319 during inauguration of 'India Aviation 2008' in Hyderabad, 15 Oct 2008
India's national carrier, Air India, is deferring the payment of staff salaries to cope with a credit crunch.

When Air India recently announced that salaries for July will be paid two weeks late to its 30,000 staff, angry staff members threatened a nationwide protest.

But the airline management says it has little choice in light of the financial crisis it faces.

The airline incurred losses of $800 million last year.

Others have faced losses

Government-owned Air India is not the only one reporting massive losses. A number of private airlines, which set up shop in the last five years hoping to benefit from a growing economy, are also struggling with high debt and huge losses.

The federal government has promised a bailout package for Air India.

Rajesh Menon at the Confederation of Indian Industry says other airlines are also asking the government to consider measures that will help them reverse the decline in profits.

"There is an issue of financial viability of the way airlines are functioning," said Menon. "There is a discussion already going on with the Government of India trying and seeing the way there could be support mechanisms in this regard … there is an issue on taxation which at least if it could have been sorted out it would have been a little more viable."

Government aid

The industry, for example, is hoping for reduction of taxes on jet turbine fuel, which is the most expensive in India. It also wants the government to allow foreign airlines to buy equity in domestic airlines to give them access to fresh capital.

Like the aviation industry worldwide, the crisis in India was triggered by the high rise in fuel prices, and declining passenger traffic.

Domestic air traffic in India fell by 15 percent in April compared to the same month in the previous year, continuing a steady decline in recent months.

Affordable travel


This has hit hard a sector that expanded massively until 2007 on forecasts that passenger traffic would grow as increasing affluence made air travel more affordable. Many airlines bought new jets. Air India, for example, is taking delivery of 26 new aircraft this year.

But many aircraft are flying with empty seats as costlier fares have prompted people to cut back on both business and leisure travel. And the global economic downturn has worsened the situation.

A recent report by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation says losses for the fiscal year that ended in March this year could double from the previous year's losses of $ 1.75 billion.

Thai Airways announces new president

BANGKOK (AFP) — Flag carrier Thai Airways Thursday named a former energy minister as its new president, with the task of resolving the airline's financial woes, a spokeswoman said.

Oxford-educated Piyasavati Amranand, 55, was chosen following a vote by the company's board members, the spokeswoman said, although his start date was not confirmed.

The position has been vacant since former president Apinan Sumanaseni resigned under pressure in November after the airline suffered heavy losses last year.

Thai Airways needs to borrow 37 billion baht (1.1 billion dollars) in local and international loans, according to board chairman Ampon Kittiampon.

He said domestic banks have agreed to lend the company 23 billion baht, including a five-billion-baht loan from Government Savings Bank.

"We are negotiating now and will conclude the deal next month," Ampon said.

Thai Airways needs another 14 billion baht from overseas markets to fund the purchase of eight Airbus A330s, he added.

The management is also reviewing a plan to buy six Airbus A380s, after the industry was badly hit by the global economic slump.

Piyasavati, currently chairman of the advisory panel to Kasikornbank's CEO, held the position of energy minister for two years after Thailand's military coup in 2006.

Airliner catches fire at Indonesian airport

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The terminal buildings and gardens at Soekarno-Hatto Airport
Image: Daniel Berthold.

An airliner has suffered an explosion and caught fire at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. The plane was being dismantled for spare parts and there were no injuries.

The plane was at a maintenance facility operated by Garuda Maintenance Facilities, a subidiary of Garuda Indonesia. Ownership of the plane is unclear, with Tempo Interactive saying that reports indicated Thailand's Phuket Air owns the plane and the Jakarta Globe quoting GMF corporate secretary Dwi Prasmono Adji as saying the plane belonged to Global Air Services.

Adji also told the Globe that the aircraft has been parked at the airport for the last five years. "The airline has gone bankrupt and the plane was being taken apart so they can resell the pieces," and the fire occurred as several technicians cut the plane up, he said.

Herry Bhakti Singayuda, the Ministry of Transportation's director general of civil aviation, attributed the explosion to the presence of fuel in lines on the plane's right wing, which was being cut up. Singayuda also said the accident occurred outside a hanger and prevented injuries.

GMF spokeswoman Siska Tobing said the explosion was heard at Terminal I of the airport, which serves Jakarta.

Singayuda and other Indonesian officials are currently in negotiations with the European Union in the hope of removing the nation's carriers from the list of airlines banned in the EU. This event is the second such coincidence, with the EU's last visit in March seeing one of Lion Air's McDonnel-Douglasplanes crash-landing at the same airport.

Friday, June 19, 2009

‘Swine’ Bankers Shun Jet Loans, Leave $36 Billion Gap

By Andrea Rothman and Susanna Ray

June 19 (Bloomberg) -- The biggest threat to the global airline industry isn’t the swine flu outbreak, according to AirAsia Bhd.’s Tony Fernandes.

“We’ve been through SARS, bird flu, tsunami, you name it,” Fernandes, the founder and chief executive officer of Southeast Asia’s biggest discount carrier, said at the Paris Air Show this week. “The only swine now are bankers.”

Carriers from Air France-KLM Group to AirAsia, already coping with a slump in travel, also have to deal with banks that are unwilling to finance aircraft purchases. Airlines have to come up with money to pay for jets ordered years ago or face penalties for cancellations. In 2010, the funding shortfall may reach $36 billion, or as much as 60 percent of the spending on larger aircraft, saidNick Cunningham, an analyst at Evolution Securities in London.

“Debt is the critical component of any strategy right now,” said Steve Rimmer, CEO of Guggenheim Aviation Partners LLC in Issaquah, Washington. Guggenheim has 56 aircraft either owned or under contract with a value of $2.5 billion and makes money by leasing them to carriers in return for regular payments. “We, like everyone, are chasing debt.”

Airlines, which posted a total of $10.4 billion in losses in 2008 according to theInternational Air Transport Association, are eliminating jobs, cutting routes and grounding planes to survive a slowdown.

AirAsia X, Air France

AirAsia X, the long-haul affiliate of Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd., is seeking short-term financing from more banks and paying higher borrowing costs, saidAzran Osman Rani, the CEO of AirAsia X. The airline announced an order theParis show for 10 Airbus SAS A350s, valued at $2.4 billion at list prices, as regional low-cost traffic grows in defiance of the global aviation slump.

AirAsia said its borrowing costs have climbed less than 100 basis points from a year earlier. Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, said the cost of financing aircraft purchases has increased by about 220 basis points from a year ago. A basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point.

“A year ago, when you wanted to finance an aircraft you’d have a queue through your doors,” Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said in an interview last month. “Once when we asked for three aircraft to be financed we got positive answers from 12 banks. Now it’s the reverse. It takes a lot of time.”

Paris-based Air France has turned to BOC Aviation, Asia’s biggest aircraft lessor and a unit of Bank of China Ltd., to help finance jetliner purchases. Air France’s traditional lenders include Calyon Securities and Natixis Transport Finance, a unit of Natixis SA, both based in Paris. Bertrand Hugonet, a Calyon spokesman, and Victoria Eideliman, a Natixis spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return calls and messages seeking comment.

State Backing

BOC Aviation said on June 4 that it will borrow as much as $560 million to help finance aircraft purchases. The Singapore- based company has acquired 40 planes since December and predicts it will have invested $10 billion in jets by 2012, more than doubling the current fleet size of 96.

The backing of Bank of China, the nation’s third-largest bank by assets, gives BOC an advantage amid financial woes at General Electric Co., whose Gecas aircraft-leasing unit has the biggest fleet in the world, and American International Group Inc., the owner of International Lease Finance Corp., said Alasdair Whyte, the publisher of Airfinance Journal.

“BOC has been one of the few lessors who’ve had a parent willing to support them,” Whyte said. “There’s a complete shortage on the lessor scene for sale-leasebacks.”

‘Best Time to Invest’

GE says it’s coming back into the market now that capital markets have eased.

“We, in recent months, have seen our funding costs decline significantly,” saidNorm Liu, who becomes Gecas’s chief starting next month. “It’s the down cycle, and that’s typically the best time to invest.”

That’s what John Slattery is doing. The former head of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s RBS Aviation Capital founded GreenStone Aviation in Dublin last week, after amassing $100 million from Jefferies Capital Partners, to do only jetliner sale-leaseback transactions. Slattery said he wants to attract as much as $500 million in private equity funding by the end of next year.

The difference between the value of an aircraft during an economic boom and a recession is typically 12 percent to 15 percent, Slattery said. In the current cycle, worsened by the credit crunch, the gap could be as much as 20 percent, he said. In addition to receiving monthly leasing payments, aircraft lessors retain the planes for possible sale later.

Loan Guarantees

Sky Holding Company, a San Francisco-based aircraft leasing and management company founded in 2007 by former Pegasus Aviation executives, has a fleet of about 100 aircraft and said it’s now seeking sale-leaseback transactions.

The company is “ready to go,” CEO Rich Wiley said, declining to comment on the amount of private-equity financing he’s lined up. “Our job is to bring a new source of capital to the airlines.”

As airlines wait for the private money to return, governments have increased the guarantees they offer on bank loans. European export credit agencies will back about half of Airbus deliveries next year, up from 40 percent in 2009, Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has also said it may boost guarantees on bank loans for Boeing Co. aircraft this year by more than 70 percent and may even lend money directly. The organization is set to put up $9 billion in loan guarantees for planes from Boeing and smaller aircraft makers, up from $5.2 billion in 2008, John McAdams, the bank’s chief operating officer, said April 15.

Not Charity

Airplane makers jump in only as a last resort when their customers can’t get financing elsewhere.

“We’re not a bank, not a charity organization,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said last week during the biennial show, the largest for the aerospace industry. “We have to use funds on a very selected basis.”

This year, Airbus is providing 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) to help customers pay for their planes and will raise the figure next year, Enders said. Walt Skowronski, president of Boeing Capital Corp., says the funding gap has narrowed amid “gradual improvement” and the Chicago-based planemaker may not have to provide the $1 billion in direct financing it’s prepared to give.

Boeing is considering “whatever financial support we think is appropriate” forUAL Corp.’s United Airlines, said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Scott Carson. The unprofitable carrier is considering taking advantage of the economic slowdown to seek discounts for as many as 150 planes to replace older models in its fleet.

“Certainly the area of financing is not something that’s unknown to the manufacturers,” United Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said in an interview. “And that’ll be part of the conversation we’ll be having.”

US Derco to support Thai air force logistics

Derco Aerospace announced it has signed an agreement to support a contract to provide logistics services to the Royal Thai Air Force.


Wisconsin-based Derco has signed an exclusive deal with Thai Aviation Industries. As part of the five-year total logistics agreement Derco will support TAI on the company's C-130 aircraft maintenance contract with the Royal Thai Air Force.

Officials say Derco, a Sikorsky Aerospace Services company, will provide logistics for Thailand's fleet of C-130s including repairs and other maintenance services.

"This agreement is significant in strengthening our relationship with TAI and the Royal Thailand Air Force," Brian Holt, Derco vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement.

"This total logistics support program will ensure the Royal Thailand Air Force's C-130 fleet is mission ready."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gilat to Provide Turnkey Satellite Communications Network for Thailand's Public Communications Agency, CAT


Network Will be Used to Provide Nationwide Voice and Internet Services

PETAH TIKVA, Israel, June 16, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq:GILT) today announced it will provide CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd. (CAT) with a Gilat SkyEdge II broadband satellite network to serve rural locations throughout Thailand. CAT is Thailand's state-owned public communications agency.

The turnkey VSAT networking solution, contracted by SCS-Loxley Consortium (Samart Communications Services) and Loxley Wireless Co. Ltd., includes equipment, installation, technical support and training. CAT will deploy Gilat SkyEdge II VSATs to provide rural citizens with telephony and broadband Internet access at public call offices nationwide as part of a Universal Service Obligation (USO).

"After evaluating several VSAT providers, we determined that Gilat provided the optimal combination of superior technology, qualified support and experience meeting USO obligations," said Thongyai Chanthanawan, SCS-Loxley Consortium Director. "By providing optimal bandwidth efficiency, Gilat's SkyEdge II platform will help ensure our deployment of the most cost-effective solution over the long term."

N. Ranganathan, Gilat Network Systems' RVP, Asia, said, "This is another example of Gilat's ability to bring dependable telephony and broadband Internet services to citizens in a cost-efficient manner, regardless of geographic location. We will apply our innovation and experience to help CAT improve the quality of life for citizens in Thailand's rural areas."

Gilat's SkyEdge II is a multi-service platform enabling the delivery of high-quality voice, broadband data and video services for diverse environments including enterprises, rural networks, cellular backhaul and government network applications. SkyEdge II is a standards-based system using DVB-S2 and DVB-RCS. With better efficiencies and full adaptivity for both the inbound and outbound channels, it provides higher performance that serves the growing requirements of end-users. Gilat's diverse portfolio of SkyEdge II VSATs are all supported by a unified platform, offering service providers the most suitable product for their application needs as well as the flexibility to evolve their networks.

About CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd.

In 2003, CAT was corporatized from the Communications Authority of Thailand. For more information, please visit www.cattelecom.com.

About Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd.

Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq:GILT) is a leading provider of products and services for satellite-based communications networks. The Company operates under three business units: (i) Gilat Network Systems, a provider of network systems and associated professional services to service providers and operators worldwide; (ii) Spacenet Inc., a provider of managed services in North America to the business and government segments; and (iii) Spacenet Rural Communications, a provider of rural telephony and Internet access solutions to remote areas primarily in Latin America.

Gilat was founded in 1987 and has shipped over 750,000 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to more than 85 countries across six continents. Gilat's headquarters is located in Petah Tikva, Israel. The Company has 16 sales and service offices worldwide. Gilat markets a full line of high-performance VSATs under the SkyEdge and SkyEdge II Product Family.

The Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. logo is available athttp://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=5848