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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Korn sets THAI agenda

The Transport Ministry has launched its own investigation into the embattled Thai Airways International and how to rescue it.


Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, whose ministry is the major shareholder in THAI, told Transport Minister Sopon Zarum yesterday he wanted to know the airline's exact problems.


The investigation will look into the closure of Suvarnabhumi airport, fuel hedging and quality of management.


Mr Korn said THAI's management needed to improve as travellers were dropping off because of the global economic downturn.


He expected the airline's board to submit a new business plan within a month

Mr Korn also pointed to the problem of too much political interference in THAI in recent years.


"While we are THAI's major shareholder, we have a smaller management role than the supervisory ministry," he said. "This should change, but it can't be done overnight."


Long-term plans should include competing with other airlines, but care must be taken to stop government interference in the national carrier's management.


"The key question is for THAI to propose a comprehensive business plan that compares with other airlines. It needs good management, corporate governance and professionalism. It also has the right to tell politicians not to meddle with it," Mr Korn said.


The State Enterprise Policy Office and the Committee on Rehabilitation and Development of Air Transportation has accepted in principle THAI's preliminary business rehabilitation plan, the airline's acting president ACM Narongsak Sanapong said.


The complete plan will be proposed to the Transport and Finance ministries this month.


There are three stages. The first focuses on increasing cash flow, improving asset management and improving liquidity. The second covers boosting revenue, improving operational efficiency and cost management and enhancing product and service quality. The third is a long-term plan to review business transformation, organisational structure and culture.

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