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Piyasvasti sends last message to employees

Thai Airways International's outgoing president Piyasvasti Amranand today sent a universal e-mail, bidding a goodbye to all 25,000 employees as his employment contract will be ended this month.





He earlier scheduled for a meeting with employees in the afternoon. That was cancelled.

In the "DD’s Talk" e-mail, he said that through the 2 years, 8 months and 2 days as president of the national carrier, he was pleased and honoured to work with many employees who demonstrated talent and integrity. It was a tough job but he was proud that he ably turned around THAI and established the good governance system. Notably, his plans won supports from the employees. What worries him now is that all the plans could be derailed as the board of directors sought to re-establish their power over the management.

Here are some excerpts from the e-mail.

"I’m confident that I have followed through the set principles, policies and planning, which establishe the foundation of sustainable growth. From Bt21 billion loss in 2008 and Bt1.6 billion loss in the first nine months of 2009 which spiked the debt to equity ratio over 3 times, the performance has improved with the D/E ratio at 2 times. THAI was recapitalised in 2010 and won sufficient loans with "considerably good" terms."

"Aside from first quarter net profit of Bt3.6 billion, the performance in April was positive under tough competition. Several leading airlines suffered from first-quarter losses, like Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. Even Chinese airlines also witnessed lower profits."

"I’m confident that the number of passengers and cabin factor of THAI in the second quarter would be the highest in five years for THAI, despite fierce competition and sluggish demand in Europe."

"Expense cuts, which were supported by all employees, attributed to the first-quarter net profit.... In some cases, the company may cut a tiny amount, but this sets a new standard for cooperation. I’d like to thank all employees and executives for this, as without cost cutting, we would not have shown profits and the company’s sustainability would not be assured."

"I have never been offended, being called "Piyaprayad" (Super-saving Piyasvasti). I’m proud and very fond of this name. We have to admit that our efficiency is comparatively lower than other airlines, due to high expenses. Under the volatile and high fuel price and fierce competition from premium airlines ... and low-cost airlines, I have to thank for all support and sacrifice."

"It’s unfortunate that the board did not see much benefits from cost-cutting measures. The board promptly rejected the proposal to have meeting allowance cut by half. Accordingly, I have the sympathy for the labour union which was asked by employees on May 30, to have all 9 cost-cutting measures revised. That the president agreed to take no meeting allowance for all board of director meetings, other meetings by the company’s committees and that of Nok Air’s board meeting persuaded employees to agree to the cost-cutting measures for long-term survival of the company. (Now) I don’t see the reason why the president should be the only one to sacrifice. As the president’s employment contract will be expired from June 21, 2012, such sacrifices from the president are also called off."

"(On fleet).... 58 new aircraft will join the fleet during 2012-2017. It marks the first time in 5 years that the fleet would be expanded and the average aircraft age would be lowered from 11-12 years two years ago to 8 years in the next 5 years. The efficiency would improve sharply, as new aircraft’s fuel efficiency is 20 per cent higher than old one and fuel accounts for 40 per cent of our operating cost."

"With consistently good products, THAI’s aim to be one of top 5 airlines is within reach. Unfortunately, Skytrak (the airline rating agency) just informed us that it indefinitely delays the consideration of re-rating following the president dismissal."

"We have accomplished the first of our TG100 mission, as Skytrak moved our place from the 10th in 2009 to the 9th in 2010 and the 5th in 2011. We are also the 2nd among global and Asian airlines, in Business Traveller magazine’s ranking...All this was attributable to all employees and executives’ efforts in improving services and turning THAI into the national pride."

With an increase in stake in Nok Air to 49 per cent and the establishment of THAI Smile, THAI now covers all market segments.

Piyasvasti noted that there were many events to remember in 2010, including THAI’s 50th anniversary and the successful recapitalisation and debenture issuance. He also thanked all for their supports, which sailed the airline through disasters-driven crises.

"Overall, everything is heading to the right direction despite unfavourable conditions. With supports from all, the Bt6 billion profit target should be achievable... It should not be difficult for the 3-month bonus payment."

Piyasvasti noted that there had been attempts to getting rid of him, even before he joined THAI. With clear KPI, the attempts failed. As he won 87 per cent scores in 2011, the contract was terminated in return for 6-month compensation. He reiterated that the reasons for the termination are ambiguous and keep changing.

"I told the chairman that he should speak out the actual reason. But as he did not tell the public the reason he told me, the reason given to the public sounds strange... First, it was lack of communications unity with the board. Then, it was conflict over the acquisition of 38 aircraft. You should throughly read the statements and see the attachment. If you can, you should see the minute of the executive comittee’s March 5, 2012 meeting and the minutes of the Audit Committee’s meetings on March 30, April 18 and May 10. Then, you will know who distorted the fact."

"Though being a state enterprise, THAI is a listed company and belongs to all Thais.... Thus, the general public, employees and shareholders are entitled to the actual reason for the termination."

He also moaned on the board’s decision on May 21 to reinstate its power over the appointment of executives, from the director level. This would lead to intervention and all executives will then wait only for the board’s orders.

He also told the employees that he would look from the outside and urged them to maintain good policies like the performance-based evaluation, the low-cost airline, and the "whistle blower policy".

"Last, I urge all you to work for the mutual benefits, for the company’s prosperity. Thanks for your cooperation eventhough I am an outsider... The business environment gets very tough. If we’re careless on efficiency and expenses, we’ll be incompetitive."




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