With domestic travel in Thailand grinding to a halt, Thai Air Asia has asked 75 per cent of employees to take leave without pay. The cost-saving measure will last for four months beginning February, according to the airline.

In May, with Covid-19 largely under control in the country, Thai Air Asia restarted its domestic routes. The flights served as a lifeline while Thailand’s borders remained closed. However, the carrier’s luck appears to have run out with the latest onset of local cases.

“Before the Covid-19 resurgence, we had 40 planes serving domestic flights. But since the re-emerging of the outbreak, some provincial lockdowns have made it impossible for people to travel and passenger demand has dropped significantly at every airport,” Tassapon Bijleveld, executive chairman at Asia Aviation, Thai Air Asia’s largest shareholder, told the Bangkok Post.

Thai Air Asia employed about 6,000 employees as of 2019 and has a fleet of 62 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. The airline does not expect to receive government aid and is looking to banks to take on additional debt, reported the Bangkok Post.

The latest furlough is Thai Air Asia’s largest yet, but it does not plan to lay off employees yet. The move comes after its financially troubled parent company said the carrier hopes to diversify and generate half of its revenue from non-flying sources by 2024.