After holding Thai Airways International's chairmanship since May 2009, Ampon Kittiampon has tendered his resignation, effective on March 10.
Succeeding him will be Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, currently first vice chairman of the THAI board. Prajin was just appointed a director on January 24, to replace Chulasingh Vasantasingh.
The changes were announced after the board of directors’ meeting yesterday.
In a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the airline announced that Ampon would remain a member of the board despite his resignation as chairman.
During his nearly five-year tenure, he worked with two presidents – Piyasvasti Amranand, whose term was ended prematurely, and Sorajak Kasemsuvan, who resigned after a year in the position citing health problems.
Before becoming chairman of the board at the national carrier, Ampon had served as deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives since 2002. He was also the secretary-general of the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board. He is now the Cabinet secretary-general.
Ampon was initially appointed to a three-year term, which was extended. According to the THAI statement, he reasoned that it did not seem appropriate to stay too long in the top post.
He pointed out that unlike other private companies and state agencies, THAI does not specifically limit its chairman’s term. For example, a government permanent secretary takes on a four-year term, and the chairman of the board of the Bank of Thailand is limited to two terms, each of three years. THAI should have something similar in place for its board chairman, he said.
At yesterday’s meeting, the board also agreed to reshuffle two top executives. Teerapol Chotichanapibal was promoted as executive vice president (commercial) from his current post as VP for strategy and business development. Chokchai Panyayong was moved to senior executive president for strategy and business development, from senior executive vice president (commercial).
The two appointments will take effect on Monday. However, Chokchai will retain the role of the company’s acting president.
The board went ahead with a plan to reorganise the airline’s operational structure as proposed by a consultant and the company’s management team. The revamp is aimed at increasing working efficiency and controlling operating costs. The board hopes to increase THAI’s competitiveness in the changing aviation business.
Last month, THAI’s cabin factor was 71.5 per cent, against 78.8 per cent in January 2012. It attributed the drop to China’s legislation curbing single-dollar outbound tours and the prolonged political tensions in Thailand, which resulted in travel warnings issued by several countries. The number of foreign passengers on THAI flights dropped to 1.71 million from 1.89 million a year earlier.