June 21, 2014 00:00
By Watcharapong Thongrung
Thai Airways International (THAI) board members can no longer fly on the national carrier for free after the board outlawed the privilege yesterday as part of a cost-cutting initiative.
The ban covers tickets that have already been booked and the ones that have yet to be used. The measure took effect immediately.
The move is part of the attempt of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to help THAI achieve budget savings.
The board will also try to introduce other measures to cut unnecessary expenses.
Air Force chief and NCPO deputy chief ACM Prajin Juntong, the THAI board chairman, said after the meeting that the board accepted the resignations of five board members late this week. The appointment of new members is expected to be finished within a fortnight.
Prajin also told the board yesterday that he would tender his resignation given his role at the NCPO, which initiated the policy to reform state enterprise boards.
However, the board and NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha asked him to remain in the post to help the carrier survive the crisis. He said he would.
Early this week, Prajin said he would tender his resignation in order to pave the way for organisational reform, which is in line with the NCPO's intention to promote reform in all aspects of the economy and beyond.
According to THAI’s filing at the Stock Exchange of Thailand on Wednesday, board member Athapol Yaisawang resigned the previous day.
In its filing yesterday, it said four board members had resigned – Ampon Kittiampon, Weerawong Chittmit-trapap, Sutham Siritipsakorn, and Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo. The resignation of Sutham takes effect on June 30, while for Weerawong, Adul, and Ampon it takes effect on July 1.
Prajin said that despite the cost reduction, THAI still gave priority to passenger safety and customer service.
However, he said THAI was unlikely to avoid experiencing financial losses this year and the board had to work hard to improve the company's situation.
A source said THAI planned to mobilise US$500 million (Bt15 billion) to buy new aircraft, with $300 million raised through a debenture issuance and the remainder raised via a greenshoe-option offering.