THAI chairman steps down

THAI chairman steps down

National carrier struggling financially, transport minister pushing for more resignations

Ekniti Nitithanprapas has resigned as chairman of Thai Airways International as it struggles with financial challenges and the transport minister's push to replace directors at state enterprises.

The resignation took effect on Friday, the national carrier said in a brief statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand on Friday night after the market closed. Air Chief Marshal Chaiyapruk Didyasarin, currently vice-chairman, will serve as acting chairman.

THAI gave no reason for Mr Ekniti’s departure, which came after three of the airline’s executive directors recently quit. President Sumeth Damrongchaitham recently drew criticism for saying the company was in crisis and might have to close if its employees do not cooperate with a rehabilitation plan.

Mr Sumeth said later that his remarks had been “misinterpreted” and the airline was not at risk of shutting down.

THAI reported a net loss of nearly 6.7 billion baht in the second quarter of this year. It has not yet reported its third-quarter results.

Last month, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam expressed concern the carrier may be in danger of running up a net loss of well over 10 billion baht for the year.

THAI said a slowdown in tourism in Thailand and in the global aviation market were factors behind a 10% decline in revenue from a year earlier.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has been pushing for directors at the 15 state enterprises under the ministry to resign ever since he was appointed to the cabinet in June.

They should “show their spirit” by stepping aside since they were appointed by politicians of the past, he has said.

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