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THAI flights put on hold until July

Thai Airways International (THAI) has decided to halt flights by the airline for another month and maintain salary cuts put in place after the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a THAI source.

The source said the decision was reached after some new board members met for the first time yesterday to keep the national carrier on track for its debt-rehabilitation plan.

Board members agreed commercial flights should be grounded until the end of June, the source said.

Earlier, THAI had been expected to resume flights from June 1. THAI announced the suspension of all international flights and closed its overseas branches in late March when the spread of the coronavirus was intensifying.

Since March, all 20,000 THAI staff have had their salaries cut by 10-50%, and this will continue.

The source said the board is also discussing unsubstantiated reports of the 60-year-old airline having problems with purchasing fuel or even drinking water from suppliers.

Another rumour had it that state energy firm PTT Plc had stopped supplying oil to THAI’s ground services at Suvarnabhumi airport.

The new board yesterday ordered an investigation to verify if the reports were true.

“We’re looking into these matters to take urgent action,” new board member and former justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga reportedly said ahead of the board meeting yesterday.

Nares Phuangyaem, former president of THAI’s labour union, said THAI’s ground operations would soon be affected.

“The remaining oil is only enough for three days’ use,” Mr Nares warned.

He said THAI’s debt-rehabilitation petition filed with the Central Bankruptcy Court had caused a “lockdown” on financial transactions that may have undermined arrangements with PTT.

The new board members have come under the spotlight as four newcomers and two incumbent members will reportedly be nominated as rehabilitation planners.

Besides Mr Pirapan, they are; Piyasvasti Amranand, a former THAI president, Boontuck Wungcharoen, a former CEO of TMB Bank, and Pailin Chuchottaworn, former CEO and president of PTT Plc, were appointed to the top posts.

Two other board members are THAI acting president Chakkrit Parapuntakul and airline chairman ACM Chaiyapruk Didyasarin.

However, Mr Pailin later resigned, citing a violation of an anti-graft regulations which bars anyone assuming a position in any organisation in which the government holds a stake within two years of leaving a cabinet minister post.

He served as deputy transport minister from December 2017 until last year.

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