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Thailand will give 49 percent foreign ownership of domestic airlines

The Ministry of Transport is preparing to amend policies to allow foreign shareholders a stake of up to 49 percent in Thailand`s domestic airlines as part of an overall government plan to…

The Ministry of Transport is preparing to amend policies to allow foreign shareholders a stake of up to 49 percent in Thailand`s domestic airlines as part of an overall government plan to support the establishment of low cost flights, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit announced on Monday.

Speaking after visiting the Department of Aviation Transport, Suriya said that he had asked the department to back the setting up of low-cost airlines, and predicted that concrete developments on the new policy would be in place by the end of the year.

In addition, he said, the ministry was amending its policy to raise the ceiling for foreign ownership of domestic airlines from 30 percent to 49 percent.

These policy changes are a matter of granting permission, and will not require legislative amendments. I am confident that these amendments will attract foreign airlines to invest in more low-cost airline services; thus, responding to the government`s policy of transforming Thailand into a regional aviation hub, as well as supporting Thai tourism, he said.

Suriya disclosed that the Malaysian airline Air Asia had already expressed an interest in offering low-cost services in Thailand, while Thai Airways International Plc.(THAI) had requested funding of Bt5-6 million to hire consultants to assess the type of services to be offered by such airlines.

This funding had now been granted in order to expedite developments over the next three months, he said.

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