VIENTIANE, 1 July 2022: Moves are afoot for the Lao government to off-load 49% of its shares in Lao Airlines to stem mounting losses, according to a Smart Aviation Asia Pacific report.
It quoted local news sources quoting the country’s prime minister Phankham Viphavanh, telling the National Assembly that nearly all “state-owned enterprises are losing money and, rather than helping to drive the economy, they are proving to be a heavy burden on the government which has to subsidise these businesses.”
The government plans to retain at least a 51% stake in flag carrier Lao Airlines, but the immediate challenge is to find private investors willing to buy a 49% stake in the loss-ridden airline. It’s not a new journey for the airline. Over the years, it has entered into various partnerships with foreign airlines, some including equity that failed to turn around the national airline’s performance.
It is doubtful that private investors would take a minority stake in the airline without having complete control over the management and financial policy. Lao Airlines is a state-owned enterprise under the Lao PDR’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Earlier this month, the airline resumed international services, with the Luang Prabang-Bangkok route one of the first to be reactivated on 17 June. It flies the route three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, departing Luang Prabang at 1000 and arriving in Bangkok at 1200. The airline’s booking website offers a starting return fare of USD276.