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Business

Ailing flag-carrier parachutes in financial expert

Charamporn Jotikasthira

BANGKOK -- Charamporn Jotikasthira, a former president and chief executive officer of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, started his new job as president of Thai Airways International on Thursday with hopes of turning around the embattled national airline.

      Charamporn's appointment won board approval in mid-November, and makes him the third person in the position since Sorajak Kasemsuyan stepped down in December last year citing health problems. There have been two acting presidents in the interim. Chokchai Panyayong, a senior executive vice president, resigned after the military staged a coup on May 22. He was replaced by Air Chief Marshal Siwakiat Jayema, who remains on the board.

      Charamporn finished his four-year tenure at the Thai bourse in May, and prior to that was with Siam Commercial Bank, the country's third largest bank by assets.

      Among numerous problems, Thai Airways has been plagued by increasing competition from low-cost carriers, chronic overstaffing, a flight of experienced pilots and a sluggish tourism industry adversely affected by political unrest.

      In the July to September period, Thai Airways posted a net profit for the first time in six quarters, but this was largely attributable to foreign exchange gains. Operating losses increased to 3.9 billion baht ($118 million) from 2 billion baht in the same period in 2013.

      Thai Airways International is 51% owned by the finance ministry. Rescuing ailing state enterprises is one of the top priorities declared by the military government.     

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