Thai Airways finds new CEO after almost two-year search

The board has recommended the recruitment of Sumeth Damrongchaitham as the new president and chief executive of Thai Airways International. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thai Airways International on Monday (May 21) said 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 Sumeth Damrongchaitham, 53, after details such as salary are agreed, the airline said in a statement.

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

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 2017.

The selection is the culmination of a search which began in September 2016 after 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 qualified replacement.

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

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