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Mystery

Is Thai Airways Sixth President since 2000 already gone?

Luc Citrinot - 02 September 2013, 00:12

A press release about a Thai Airways International aircraft hit by turbulences at Hong Kong International Airport on August 30 only mentions Senior Vice President Commercial Chokchai Panyayong who explained the cause of the incident onboard the Airbus A380.

BANGKOK- Last week, Traveldailynews.asia mentioned about the troubles that Thai Airways international President, Sorajak Kasemsuvan, was facing with its Board of Directors, who expressed their disappointment over the mediocre results of the airline
(http://www.traveldailynews.asia/news/article/53274/thai-airways-mulls-out-options). The airline posted a net loss of THB 8.4 billion (US$269 million) for the April-June period, compared to a loss of THB 1.53 billion (US$ 49 million) for the same period of 2012.

Mr. Kasemsuwan presides the airline’s fate since October 2012. But most probably ‘presided’, although no official news has so far come out of Thai Airways Public Relations Department.
 
On August 30, Thai Airways Airbus A380 on its flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong was hit by turbulences upon descent to Chek Lap Kok International Airport. The Airbus A380-800 aircraft, which left Bangkok at 08.15 am carried 500 passengers, two pilots, and 24 cabin attendants. An unforeseen turbulence occurred, which caused injury to 20 passengers and cabin attendants, according to initial reports. Despite the turbulence, pilots safely landed the aircraft. Injured passengers and cabin crew staff were then conveyed immediately to a Hong Kong hospital with Thai Airways taking care of all expenses.
 
Turbulence in Hong Kong skies were however not the only ones faced by Thailand national carrier. In the Media release distributed by Thai Airways to journalists, there is a mention which now needs clarification: TG executive who spoke about the incident is Chokchai Panyayong, Senior Executive Vice President, Commercial Department and ‘Acting President’, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI), as the release says.

After sacking Piyasvasti Amranand, a former energy minister, who was the airline’s President from October 2009 to May 2012, the function of Acting President was already assumed by Chokchai Panyayong, by then Vice president in charge of strategy and business development. Last week, Thai Airways Unions asked rather for the resignation of the airline’s chairman Ampon Kittiampon rather than President Sorajak Kasemsuwan. Mr. Kittiampon is a controversial figure. He was criticized last year by media to have pushed Mr. Amranand to resign rather on political motivation than on his real achievements.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways International can pride itself for a new record. The State-owned airline (51% are in the hands of Thailand’s Ministry of Finance) has seen six Presidents from 2000 to 2013!

In October 2000, Bhisit Kuslayanon replaced Thamnoon Wanglee. He last less than a year and was replaced by Kanok Abhiradee. Aiming for more transparency, the elected President remained on board for two years, from 2002 to 2005 before being replaced by a dull personality, Former Flight Captain Apinan Sumanaseni. The latter managed to last slightly less than his predecessor, two years and a half. In June 2009, a former Thai Minister of Energy, Piyasvasti Amranand, was named president. A strong personality with a very sharp sense about the way to conduct business, he was so far the most capable head of the State carrier. Probably far too capable…

As the airline’s specialized magazine “Orient Aviation” mentioned in its March 2013 issue, “the 21st century has proved something of a graveyard for THAI presidents”. A worrying element is the total lack of transparency at the airline. The so far unconfirmed departure of Mr. Sorajak Kasemsuwan would be another proof of it.

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