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Get the politicians out of Thai Airways

I agree with Khun Banyong Pongpanich, former Thai International director and CEO of Phatra Securities, that Thai Airways should be privatised - not because there's anything wrong with being a state enterprise, but because politicians of all parties put their private and party interests above the common good.

For example, do we really need as many as three air chief marshals to set airline policy? Or what in our national police chief's resume makes him an expert in aviation security? THAI has operating funds of Bt56 billion but accumulated debts of Bt250 billion - yet the board abruptly fired Khun Piyasvati Amranand as CEO in 2012 even though he'd done miracles and made a profit.

To get politicians out of THAI, I suggest that all THAI shares be sold to the public, subject to a few specific conditions to protect the national interest, eg, in emergencies, THAI must evacuate Thais from danger zones, and be reimbursed by the government at market rates, or that THAI's main hub must always be in Thailand. Given that our national interest would be protected by the aforementioned conditions, I see no reason to prohibit non-Thais from owning a majority share, thus increasing share prices and pressure for performance. Candidates for the board and all executive posts must be evaluated against transparent, measurable, job-related key performance indicators, and compensation (including perks) tied to long- and short-term achievements. Thus, if performance missed goals, directors' compensation would decline by similar proportions.

Let's get an airline that we can be proud of.

Burin Kantabutra


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