April 25, 2012 00:00
By Achara Deboonme
Thai Airways International president Piyasvasti Amranand is annoyed about the rumour that he is on the way out of the national carrier.
“This is nonsense. I wonder why some still believe in this rumour,” he said in a recent interview.
“This is groundless and there is no reason for a change, as THAI operations are on the right track.”
He denied signing or submitting a letter of resignation or coming under external pressure to leave his job.
For more than 60 years, THAI has always faced this revolving-door rumour after changes in the government, as new governments tend to nominate their own choices for state-enterprise chairmen and presidents.
In late 2009, Piyasvasti became the first THAI president to work under an employment contract. Should he resign before his term ends next year, he is liable to penalties of six months of salary, which is now about Bt1 million. He is also entitled to six months of compensation if the contract is terminated by any other party.
Unlike many predecessors, he has won strong support from shareholders and the general public, after his efforts to reintroduce transparency in the image-tainted organisation. Under his guidance, the airline has trimmed non-fuel expenses, which helped cushion it from turbulence both domestic and international.
This year, the airline is on course to achieve its net-profit target of Bt6 billion, he said.
New aircraft with better-designed seating capacity and entertainment systems as well as the new business plan focused more on Asian destinations are contributing to higher revenue.
First-quarter revenue has met the government’s expectations. The cabin factor as of April 20 had nearly hit 80 per cent.
This year, while jet-fuel prices exceed last year’s level, THAI stands to gain from hedging about 80 per cent of its purchases.
Thanks to contracts, THAI has earned foreign-exchange income of Bt350 million to Bt400 million a month.
“If things go as planned throughout this year, we could witness a gain of more than Bt4 billion, and that would push up our financial results,” he said.
For now, Piyasvasti isn’t paying any attention to speculation over his job security.
“There are so many things to deal with. I’d rather focus on my work,” he said.
One of them is the annual shareholders’ meeting scheduled for today.