‘Not a single’ THY share up for sale: Official

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Turkey’s wealth fund has denied reports saying that some shares of the country’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines (THY), would be sold to cushion the financial blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We own 49.12 percent of THY’s shares. We have no plans to sell any THY shares, not even a single one. I’m saying this clearly,” said Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF) Managing Director Zafer Sönmez, warning agains “manipulations.”

The company, which flies to more destinations worldwide than any other airline, could receive financial support from the TVF and the Turkish state in case of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Turkish Cargo, a subsidiary of THY, will soon enter the top five list of the world’s air freight companies, he added.

“THY will be among the winner players in the aviation sector during the pandemic period,” said Sönmez.

In a statement to the stock exchange last week, THY said the company had not received any information regarding talks being conducted for the provision of capital or financing support to the company.

Measures restricting movement in the wake of the pandemic have led to big losses, layoffs and closures at airlines around the world. One of the biggest, Germany’s Lufthansa, agreed a $10-billion government bailout in June.

Turkish Airlines posted a loss of 2.23 billion lira ($287 million) in the second quarter when lockdowns at home and abroad were most widespread. It has agreed with a labor union to cut wages by 30-50 percent until the end of 2021 but avoided layoffs.

The shares of THY, which has a market capitalization of 14.6 billion Turkish Liras ($1.9 billion, have dropped 31 percent since borders were temporarily closed and domestic and international flights were halted after February.

THY Chairman İlker Aycı said after the second quarter the airline felt “very comfortable” with the $1.7 billion of cash on hand, credit lines and other funding capacity it had until the beginning of 2021.

But it expects to burn up to $350 million per month through year end, when net debt is expected to be some $14 billion.

The company’s passenger numbers tumbled 65.9 percent year-on-year in August, company data showed. Its load factor dropped 17.2 percentage points to 67.6 percent in the same period.

Hurriyet Daily News

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