Heads Of Thai Airways And Bangkok Airport Resign Over Government’s Botched Response To Coronavirus

The CEOs of Thai Airways and of Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi airport have both resigned, reportedly over an inability to gain cooperation from other government agencies in their response to coronavirus.

Thai Airways CEO Sumeth Damrongchaitham quit first on Thursday and then was followed closely thereafter by the Bangkok airport CEO Sutheerawat Suwannawat.

Media in Thailand are reporting that the Thai Airways CEO quit over “lack of assistance from the Ministry of Transport in containing the virus.”

Meanwhile the airport chief “was disheartened by refusal from other agencies” including immigration, health and the military, to provide cooperation in screening passengers. Indeed, reports are that face masks intended for workers screening passengers have been taken away from the airport and given to other government agencies.

However the airport CEO’s boss, the head of Airports of Thailand, claimed the resignation was over “80 Thai undocumented workers returning from South Korea evad[ing] a checkpoint” at the Bangkok airport Saturday. (Almost all 80 have since turned themselves in.)

(HT: David H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. If missing ( or redirected ) masks is the issue, perhaps authorities could ramp up the investigation into the meeting between a businessman and a staffer of a government minister, recently held at a local Marriott, to discuss a proposal to export 200 million masks to China. Masks have disappeared from stores and it is unclear where these ones came from ( but evidently not part of the stash created from used masks acquired from hospitals, washed, iron and then sold as new by another local ‘entrepreneur’).

  2. This story is more interesting than the hit pieces on Trump. However, nobody is commenting on it.

    I could not find masks anywhere. However, store clerks were wearing them. I am skeptical that the masks would do that much to stop the spread of the virus. Only a small percentage of the Thais I saw had masks. In addition, the hand spray they had every where, was often sticky and to be honest, I am not sure it would kill the coronavirus. My car driver gave me a mask, which I used when I got to Tokyo airport.

    Two weeks ago, I was not screened coming into Thailand, although I flew in via Seoul (ICN) using Korean Air points.

    On the way out, they put something on my head, which I assume was a thermometer and I passed. LOL. I felt warm, because it is hot in BKK airport. I speculate they have turned down the air conditioner in BKK to save money. Then they asked me if I had traveled to China. I said no, since I have not. But nobody really checked.

    In Tokyo airport, they did one question better than BKK airport. They asked if I had been to China or Iran. No temperature check at all.

    JFK was empty when I arrived. I was lucky to negotiate a ride with a dropping off Uber driver, because the taxi stand looked pretty empty.

    There are massive cancellations by Japanese Airlines and by Korean Airlines. I kept on waiting for the other shoe to drop and have my flight cancelled before flying. To be honest, I am glad to be back in the New York city. I did not want to be stuck in Thailand or Japan or South Korea until the hysteria goes away.

    More commentators talking about their own experiences would be interesting. I am sure many of us are flying.

  3. Flying to bkk tuesday 17th .. hope airport open so i can get stuck in thialand when everything gets locked down..

  4. @Scott Hartman
    Unbelievable. Either he’s learned nothing from his previous rant OR this kind of anti-foreigner rhetoric is now semi-official policy. If it’s the latter, they might want to consult with the hospitality industry…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *