Thai Airways finds new CEO after 2-year search

BANGKOK • Thai Airways International said yesterday it has found a new president and chief executive, almost two years after the retirement of the national carrier's former head.

The board has recommended the recruitment of Mr Sumeth Damrongchaitham, 53, after details such as salary are agreed, the airline said in a statement.

Mr Sumeth is listed on the website of the Ministry of Finance as president of state-owned property manager Dhanarak Asset Development. He was also chief operating officer of music and entertainment group GMM Grammy.

If appointed, he will take control of an airline struggling for growth in an environment of high fuel costs and competition from low-cost carriers. Thai Airways reported a 14 per cent fall in net profit for January-March, after booking a loss for last year.

The selection is the culmination of a search that began in September 2016 after Mr Charamporn Jothikastira retired at 60, the compulsory retirement age for employees of state-owned firms.

Aviation Business Unit vice-president Usanee Sangsingkea has been acting CEO while the airline struggled to find a replacement.

If appointed, he will take control of an airline struggling for growth in an environment of high fuel costs and competition from low-cost carriers.

Investors and analysts have said potential candidates may have been deterred by the airline's lack of independence. Its board consists of civil servants and former members of the air force, in a country ruled by a military junta.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2018, with the headline 'Thai Airways finds new CEO after 2-year search'. Print Edition | Subscribe