Thaksin linked to THAI's losses

Thaksin linked to THAI's losses

NACC begins probe of aircraft purchases

Thai Airways International staff members welcome an Airbus A340 aircraft at Don Mueang Airport on April 8, 2005. (Bangkok Post photo)
Thai Airways International staff members welcome an Airbus A340 aircraft at Don Mueang Airport on April 8, 2005. (Bangkok Post photo)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has launched a probe into ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's decision to approve Thai Airways International Plc's (THAI) plan to purchase Airbus aircraft worth more than 53 billion baht years ago.

The move by the fugitive former prime minister allegedly led to huge losses.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, deputy secretary-general of the NACC, said the commission has set up a nine-member panel to look into allegations that Thaksin approved the purchase of multiple Airbus A340-500 and A340-600 aircraft between 2002 and 2004. He said the decision plunged the airline into debt.

Apart from Thaksin, there are four other people suspected of being involved in the decision, Mr Niwatchai said.

The other four are Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkij, who served as transport minister at the time; former deputy transport minister Phichet Sathirachawal; former THAI board chairman Thanong Bidaya and former THAI president Kanok Abhiradee, according to an Isra News Agency report.

Between 2002 and 2004, Thaksin's cabinet approved THAI's plan to purchase 10 A340-500 and A340-600 aircraft worth about 53.5 billion baht. The purchase plan was submitted by Mr Suriya at the time.

The purchase of A340-500 aircraft was also mentioned in report by a fact-finding panel set up on Aug 28 by the Transport Ministry to look into alleged corruption in THAI. Pol Lt Gen Charnthep Sesawet was assigned as head of the panel.

The report pointed out that THAI's financial losses were the result of the purchase of the 10 aircraft, which was carried out under a procurement plan between 2003 and 2004.

According to the report, the aircraft were in service between July 2005 and Jan 7, 2013, on 51 routes, including Bangkok-New York and Bangkok-Los Angeles. But THAI ended up suffering 39.8 billion baht in losses on all the routes, it said.

In particular, flights on the Bangkok-New York and Bangkok-Los Angeles routes recorded losses of more than 12.4 billion baht as Airbus A340-500s and A340-600s are meant for long-haul flights, the report said, noting the airplanes consumed huge amounts of fuel but did not have many seats.

Moreover, the aircraft were in use for only six to 10 years, lower than the general threshold of 20 years of service, and this was not cost-effective, according to the report.

The aircraft in question are now decommissioned, and waiting to be sold but THAI also suffered an impairment loss of more than 22.9 billion baht, it said.

Thaksin faced several other legal wrangles, including charges over the Ratchadaphisek land purchase case. On Oct 21, 2008, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions sentenced him in absentia to two years in jail, convicting him of violating the National Counter-Corruption Act.

The move to probe Thaksin's airplane purchases comes amid his criticism of the current government via the Clubhouse app under the alias of Tony Woodsome. He has taken aim at the Prayut Chan-o-cha government over several issues, including the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the economic problems caused by the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Thaksin appeared on Clubhouse again, discussing a topic on Thai politics and the future of young Thais.

At one point, he said the government should sit down for talks with young people, adding that use of violence against protesters will not help.

Do you like the content of this article?

Elizabeth II died of 'old age': death certificate

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II died of "old age" at 3:10pm (1410 GMT) on Sept 8, according to her death certificate released on Thursday, or nearly three-and-a-half hours before the news was announced to the world.

29 Sep 2022

Thai women advance at volleyball worlds

Thailand has advanced to the second round of the FIVB Women’s World Championship with a straight-sets victory over South Korea on Thursday in Gdansk, Poland.

29 Sep 2022

Kremlin to annex four Ukraine regions Friday

MOSCOW: Russia will formally annex four regions of Ukraine its troops occupy at a grand ceremony in Moscow on Friday, the Kremlin has announced, after it suggested using nuclear weapons to defend the territories.

29 Sep 2022