According to a report by the Bangkok Post newspaper, Thai Airways International Plc (Thai) is not at risk of shutting down and recent news reports about the airline's situation were "misinterpreted", Thai president Sumeth Damrongchaitham insisted this week. He was responding to media reports about a possible closure during remarks he made to high-ranking Thai staff. He said the remarks were to encourage staff to make an all-out effort to ensure the struggling airline's rehabilitation plan succeeds.
Image: Thai Airways Airbus aircraft at Bangkok (Mattes, Wikimedia Commons)
Mr Sumeth said the remarks made during a discussion with executives on Tuesday were 'misinterpreted' as meaning the airline faced possible closure. The discussion took place during a training session at the airline's headquarters to remind staff of the level of competition in the aviation industry. Mr Sumeth rejected the possibility of the flag carrier closing down, but admitted having to battle stiff competition, including that from low-cost carriers. With competition in the airline industry becoming more fierce, he said he had emphasised the importance and urgent need to overcome obstacles confronting the airline.
Thai staff were urged to take heed of how competitive the airline is in all areas of business, such as low-cost carrier competition, air fare promotions, and 'cut throat' route competition in certain markets.
"Thai confirms it is perfectly capable to perform exceptionally amid tough airline competition," he said in a statement issued by the airline. Mr Sumeth said he spoke to staff in order to motivate them to take immediate action to cut costs and boost profits.
"In an era when customers have so many offers to hand amid fierce airline competition, employees were asked to join forces and work to beat the competition for the inevitable achievement of improved operational results," he said. He also dismissed media reports that the airline was looking to stop flying to four destinations within the Asean region, saying that the carrier has no plan to drop any routes.
Left: Thai Airways International president Sumeth Damrongchaitham (Bangkok Post file photo)
The airline is the national carrier and a state enterprise owned by the Government.
According to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, the Finance Ministry is the largest shareholder with a 51.03% stake in the airline together with the state-run Vayupak Fund which holds another 15.16%.
One of Thai's new Boeing 787s departs Vienna (Paul Schmid)
Boeing 777 at Dhaka (Faisal Akram)