Thai Air board members to resign, chairman to stay

Thai Air board members to resign, chairman to stay
A Thai Airways plane.

BANGKOK - Five board members at Thai Airways International will resign to allow the ruling military to reshuffle and restructure the loss-making carrier hit by weak tourism after several months of domestic political unrest.

Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong will stay as chairman of Thai Airways to help turn around the state-controlled airline after the junta refused his resignation. "Head of the military council and the airline's board don't want me to resign and they want me to help improve the airline which is in critical condition," Prajin told reporters.

The latest report issued by the State Enterprise Policy Office showed Thai Airways was among five state companies which are in "critical" condition. The national carrier posted a fourth successive losss in the first quarter.

Former chairman Ampon Kittiampon, who resigned from the position in March but still sits on the board, is among those stepping down.

Prajin, who is overseeing economic matters for the junta, said he was worried about revenue, but added the airline's aircraft purchasing plan would not be reviewed. It is due to take deliveries in the next five years.

Thai Airways, which also suffered from fierce competition from low cost and regional rivals, is implementing strategies to boost revenue, cut operating costs and scrap some benefits of the 15 members of the board, Prajin said.

The junta, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has been scrutinising 56 state-owned companies as part of its attempt to reform and take control of the overall state enterprise system and its combined assets of 11 trillion baht (S$425 billion).

Chairmen of several state-owned companies, including top enery firm PTT, Krung Thai Bank, Airports of Thailand and broadcaster MCOT Pcl, have resigned to pave the way for the reshuffle under the order of the junta.

PTT is the largest revenue contributor to the government, the agency said.

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