Thai VIP & THAI Airways
Korn orders TG to review '40 suitcases' allegations
* Published: 15/12/2009 at 12:00 AM
* Newspaper section: Business
The Thai Airways International board must conduct a thorough investigation into the baggage scandal surrounding its executive chairman, says Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij.
Wallop Bhukkanasut and his wife face allegations of evading excess baggage charges on up to 40 suitcases, thought to have contained fruit, when returning from a recent trip to Japan.
The luggage is thought to have weighed about 500 kilogrammes, an amount that would have been subject to excess weight charges totalling hundreds of thousands of baht.
They also allegedly bypassed customs controls by having their luggage delivered to the lost-and-found channel at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Mr Korn said the THAI board should consider the matter not only in terms of the national carrier's own benefits but also of its public image.
The THAI labour union demanded an investigation into the matter and has filed a complaint with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum.
THAI, 51% owned by the Finance Ministry, reported losses of 4 billion baht in the third quarter, with nine-month losses totalling 1.57 billion.
Meanwhile, Customs Department officials said the lost-and-found channel at Suvarnabhumi was under the sole control of Thai Airways.
"Baggage passing through this channel generally doesn't have tags. It's definitely an avenue to evade customs checks and taxes," one official said.
"Another channel to bring in goods without passing through checkpoints is through the staff entrances."
Evading customs checkpoints at the airport has long been commonplace for senior politicians, well-connected VIPs and airline flight crews seeking to import luxury goods, wine and foods.
About the author
Writer: Wichit Chantanusornsiri
Position: Business Reporter, Bangkok Post
Spectacularly Unfair to the voters!!!!