In June 2009, after a seven-month search, the board of directors of Thai Airways International announced the appointment of former energy minister Dr Piyasvasti Amranand, a well educated and highly regarded technocrat, as the global carrier's 15th president and chief executive officer.
On May 22, 2012, it sacked him, citing communication problems between the board and the president that could jeopardize the airline achieving its profit target of Baht 7 billion this fiscal year.
A majority of the THAI directors were appointed by the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, and there has been strong speculation that the firing of Piyasvasti was politically motivated, given persistent rumours that the airline chief was earmarked for the chopping block since the Yingluck Shinawatra government took power.
Given the airline's dramatically improved performance, it is perhaps not surprising that the abrupt termination of the CEO upset the airline's work force. Union leaders quickly issued a formal request to the board to further explain its reasons.
Securities analysts also seemed disappointed and surprised. Dr Piyasvasti had been given high marks in his internal performance assessments, and was largely credited by investors with turning around the airline's fortunes. He had implemented cost-cutting measures that included reductions in executive pay and a clamp on perks traditionally enjoyed by senior executives and political figures.
But there have been persistent rumours that Dr Piyasvasti's hasty departure was really due to a disagreement over the huge multi-billion baht aircraft procurement project approved by the Cabinet seven years ago. A statement by Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said that Dr Piyasvasti failed to see eye-to-eye with the board on whether Cabinet reapproval was required for aircraft purchased after 2018.
Please join us as we welcome back to our table Dr Piyasvasti Amranand, as he gives his version of recent events and takes questions from members and guests.
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Foreign Correspondents' Club of
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