Thai president Piyasvasti set to leave airline

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Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand is set to leave the airline, say sources.

His last day will be 21 June, they add. It is still not clear if he has been asked to leave or if he resigned. The airline has not issued an official statement and executives from its public relations team could not be contacted as they were in a meeting.

Amranand, a former government minister who was appointed to the Thai Airways position in June 2009, succeeded in turning around the loss-making flag carrier and helping it to return to profitability over the last few years.

He set in motion plans for the majority state-owned airline to rejuvenate its fleet and induct newer and more fuel-efficient aircraft in the coming years. A new full-service regional carrier, Thai Smile, modelled after Singapore's SilkAir, is also set to begin operations in July.

However, he also struggled to make headway in some of his other attempts to transform the Star Alliance carrier and make it more competitive against domestic and regional low-cost carriers.

One issue that he faced was the lack of support from some sections within the Thai government, especially in their refusal to give the green light to a plan to form a joint venture with Singapore's Tiger Airways. That led to Amranand publicly taking the government to task several times, a tactic that sources say made him unpopular with many in the government.