BANGKOK – Thai Airways is planning to sue anti-government protesters for financial losses caused by an eight-day siege of Bangkok’s two airports, its chairman said Thursday.
The blockade by members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy has cost Thailand’s national carrier about 20 billion baht ($560 million), forcing it to consult the attorney general’s office on legal action, chairman Surachai Tansitpong said.
“The board has agreed that we have suffered losses as a public company, so those people who caused this must be held responsible,” he said.
Normal operations were set to resume on Friday at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok’s main international hub, the country’s airport authority said.
The first flights for eight days took off from the airport on Wednesday after demonstrators abandoned their vigil in the wake of a court verdict that stripped the prime minister of his post and disbanded the ruling party.
The smaller Don Mueang domestic airport, which was also occupied by protesters, returned to full operations early Thursday, but local media reported Thai Airways had already suffered some 1,000 flight cancellations.
Surachai said no timeframe had been set for filing the lawsuit as the airline’s priority for now remained the evacuation of thousands of stranded passengers.
The flag carrier was already suffering from volatile fuel prices and lower passenger numbers, posting losses of 9.23 billion baht in the second quarter of 2008 – its biggest quarterly loss in a decade.
Thai Airways president Apinan Sumanaseni resigned from the board late last month, citing health reasons and ongoing disagreements with the board.