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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience

The Thaiger

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience | The Thaiger
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Four new board members for Thai Airways are the face of hope for the national airline as it addresses massive losses and restructuring. The airline’s business is now being addressed under the country’s Bankruptcy Act.

Piyasvasti Amranand, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Boontuck Wungcharoen and Pailin Chuchottaworn have joined the Thai Airways executive board. Piyasvasti served as the airline’s president from June 2009 to June 2012.

The four board members were hand-picked by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who said he needed “trustworthy people” to help guide the national airline to a more profitable future.

Last week the Thai cabinet approved a plan for the 60 year old airline to enter a court-sanctioned restructuring scheme under the country’s bankruptcy law. The plan for Thai Airways to borrow 54 billion baht to stay afloat in another government ‘bail out’ was met with widespread opposition, from government ministers, prominent businesspeople and social media. The airline has accumulated debts of 244 billion baht. The Covid-19 pandemic has also grounded most of its fleet, massively compounding the airlines’ already complex problems.

Also last week, the Stock Exchange of Thailand listed airline informed the SET that the Finance Ministry had sold 3.17% of its majority shareholding in the airline to the state-backed Vayupak Fund on May 22. This reduced the ministry’s stake from 51.03% to 47.86% control, stripping Thai Airways of its status as a state enterprise, providing more scope for the new board to restructure the airline and seek private financial assistance.

But the government technically retains a majority stake in the airline if the shares of the Finance Ministry, Vayupak Fund and Government Savings Bank are combined.

2 days ago the PM appointed a 9 member committee to handle the restructuring plan for the ailing airline, chaired by trusted sidekick Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. The other members are mostly state officials, including the permanent secretaries of the Finance, Transport and Justice ministries as well as the secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The four additional board members will help draw up a restructuring plan for the airline.

But critics are warning of potential built-in pitfalls stemming from numerous conflicts of interest. There is no ‘aviation’ expertise and the “jobs for the boys” criticism will not go away with the new board. They all have impressive backgrounds as senior executives in the private and public sectors.

The airline was already swimming in debt when one of the new board members, Piyasvasti Amranand, became Thai Airways president in 2009. He cut costs at the time by slashing salaries and jobs and reducing unnecessary expenditure. At the same time he was the person responsible for locking the airline into a major aircraft acquisition and starting up the subsidiary Thai Smile – originally meant to be competition for regional low-cost carriers but eventually morphed into a domestic offshoot for Thai Airways leaving the parent company mostly with the international routes.

The other new board members are all politically connected with Prayut and have served in his cabinets or as political advisors. They have all had extensive public service experience heading up multiple Thai enterprises.

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Economy

Thai nightlife grapples with “new normal”

Jack Burton

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Thai nightlife grapples with “new normal” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: People.com

Thailand’s nightlife scene is grappling with a ‘new normal’ as changes upon its recent reopening see facemasks joining the normal bikini wear in red-light districts across the Kingdom.

After being forced to close for more than 3 months in order to stop the spread of Covid-19,bars, karaoke venues and massage parlours are in the latest category of businesses allowed to reopen under new conditions, now that Thailand has gone more than a month without any community transmission of the virus.

The reopening means a return to work for hundreds of thousands of people in the nightlife industry who have struggled to survive. “Bee,” a 27 year old dancer, who goes by her stage name at the XXX Lounge in the Patpong district, said:

“I lost all my income. I’m glad that I can come back to work in a job that I’m good at. I’m ok with the mask because it’s one of the precautions.”

All customers must have their temperature taken before entering, and must give a name and telephone number or register with the Thai Chana app. Inside, everybody must sit at least one metre apart, and 2 metres from the stage. But one British expatriate questioned the need:

“You can take a BTS train in the morning with 200 people on a packed train but then you come into a bar and still have to sit 2 metres apart.”

The government has staggered the reopening of public places over several weeks with schools, colleges and universities officially resuming yesterday.

Despite a low death toll (58 out of 3,173 infections- a relatively low number even within the region), Thailand’s economy is expected to sink further than any other in Southeast Asia, with the number of foreign tourists expected to drop 80% or more this year.

At the Dream Boy club in Bangkok’s Patpong Soi 1, bare-chested men with face shields tried to entice the few passersby off the street, but many businesses remain shut and those who have opened are only seeing a few customers.

“There are bars all over Bangkok that have been open for 10 to 15 years and now they are closed and they are not coming back.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand sets new guidelines to govern “medical tourism”

Jack Burton

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Thailand sets new guidelines to govern “medical tourism” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Medical News

Thailand’s medical community is rolling out a set of guidelines for medical tourism as the country prepares to open its borders to international visitors. According to the director-general of the Department of Health Service Support, yesterday’s first meeting of the medical hub committee resulted in 3 decisions.

The first outcome from the meeting set a new policy pertaining to quarantine requirements for Thais and foreigners arriving from abroad for medical treatment. Visitors will be required to show proof that they were tested for Covid-19 no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in the country, and are required to complete a 14 day quarantine. He added that those intending to travel to Thailand for medical procedures will be required to undergo 3 Covid-19 screenings while here – before, during, and after the course of the treatment.

Thai patients arriving from abroad will have the option of quarantining at a state hospital, where the cost of their stay will be partially covered by state health insurance, or at an alternative hospital, which must be booked in advance and paid for by the patients themselves. Foreign patients, however, will have to book quarantine arrangements in advance, as state quarantine is reserved only for Thai citizens.

The second decision, he added, was the endorsement of the slogan “Beyond Healthcare, Trust Thailand,” which is part of the government’s push to establish Thailand as the world’s healthcare capital.

Lastly, was the move to promote the production of locally made medical equipment, including Covid-19 test kits, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and treatment equipment.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today

Jack Burton

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Phuket’s (in)famous “Soi Bangla” district reopens today | The Thaiger

Today is the official reopening of Phuket’s famous (or infamous) “Soi Bangla” nightlife district, but only about 20% of venues say they’re reopening during this early stage. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced yesterday that all night entertainment venues may reopen but must strictly adhere to health guidelines set out to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Dr Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the CCSA, says night entertainment venues, including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and beer gardens will be allowed to open, but only until midnight. Social distancing measures will be strictly enforced, and customers must use the Thai Chana app to check in and out.

The Patong Entertainment Business Association president says only about 20% of the 324 registered members are expected to reopen initially, but he expects more to reopen soon. Among the 22 rules announced last week- to be presented to the CCSA for approval- were that all staff must wear face masks and face shields, but performers may wear face shields only. No bottles are to be served, and all drinks are to be served in glasses. No pool table games (including snooker and billiards) and no dart games are to be allowed.

The number of guests in each venue is to be restricted to cater for social distancing, with at least 2 metres between tables, or partitions must be installed to ensure patrons are seated at least one metre away from each other.

Undercutting the main reason people visit popular venues, the draft rules also call for groups to be limited to 5 people, and for guests to be prohibited from dancing and singing, gathering, shouting, or “wandering around the premises”.

“I have no idea what the rules will be, but we will open anyway. If the full list of 22 rules for pubs, bars and entertainment venues is to be applied, we won’t be able to enforce all the rules, because enforcing all these rules is impossible. But we can follow some of the rules, such as social distancing, wearing masks and checking temperatures.”

Even Patong’s mayor told The Phuket News that she is yet to receive a copy of all the rules to be enforced.

“The next thing to do is follow up with the CCSA about the rules. This is very important for the entertainment industry in Patong. I will help and consider being flexible with the rules for entertainment businesses in Patong, because the rules announced by CCSA are the general rules for many places. But some of these rules are not appropriate for businesses here. We have to apply the right rules and optimise them for businesses in Patong.”

The PEBA president dismissed a few entertainment zones being singled out in other countries as “hotbeds for starting a second wave” of Covid-19 infections.

“I do not care what some people claim is the risk of being in a bar. If the government is genuinely concerned about the risk of Covid-19 spreading, then it is not just about bars, pubs and entertainment venues. The risk of Covid-19 spreading applies anywhere where people are around, not only at bars and pubs.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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