Sirivat Voravetvuthikun, one of 1,700 stakeholders present at the shareholders' meeting, said THAI would not return to profitability this year as long as politicians were exploiting the carrier's management for their own benefit.
"I don't mind exploitation if it does not affect minor shareholders. The Finance Ministry should tender for all shares at cost and delist the company. Then politicians can do whatever they want with the company," he said, angrily.
THAI's shareholders ap-proved a 25-per-cent cut in the directors' meeting allowance and a 50-per-cent cut in their ticket privileges.
Finance Ministry representative Pankanita Bunkrong also called for the allowance cut to cover all members of committees and subcommittees, as well as outsiders. Moreover, free tickets must be issued only to active directors, not their family members.
Chamsri Sukchotrat, a shareholder and leader of the THAI labour union, said politicians had influence over the management and the board of directors. This affects the company's performance. Even though all employees are working hard, passengers will not receive value for money, she said.
"Can any executive here say outright that THAI is free from politics?" she asked.
Most shareholders were dismayed over last year's Bt21-billion net loss despite an-nualised revenue growing 1.3 per cent to Bt202.6 billion. Expenses in the year rose 16.9 per cent to Bt220.7 billion, due partly to Bt5.3 billion for hedging compensation.
One shareholder dared the 12 executives and directors on the stage to announce how much of the loss was attributable to external factors and how much to management failures.
Two shareholders verbally attacked Pichai Chunhavajira, a director who is also chief financial officer of PTT, the cuntry's largest oil and gas company.
"Other airlines also struck hedging contracts, but they did not suffer as much as THAI. Pichai is on the board and a director of energy companies. Still he could not help THAI. How could the company have bought the contracts when oil prices were at their peak?" said a shareholder named Wanchai.
He added that the management's claim that political conflicts had affected its performance was not reasonable. "The company was severely affected [by political factors] in late November and December, but what about the rest of the year?"
THAI announced earlier it had lost Bt20 billion following the seizure of Suvarnabhumi Airport last November.
At press time, the shareholders had not voted on THAI's new directors. The new board will choose the next chairman amid wrangling for control by the Finance and Transport ministries.