March 12, 2020 / 1:06 PM / in 20 days

Thai Airways president resigns as travel withers

BANGKOK, March 12 (Reuters) - The president of Thailand’s legacy carrier, Thai Airways International Pcl resigned on Thursday, the company said, as the airline deals with a weakening travel industry and a transformation plan.

The board of directors approved Sumeth Damrongchaitham’s resignation as president and board member, effective April 11, the airline said in its statement without elaborating.

Sumeth’s resignation comes less than two years after he took the job in 2018 when the carrier was already struggling for growth amid competition from low-cost rivals.

Thai Airways’ losses in 2019 widened to 12.2 billion baht ($385 million) from losses of 11.6 billion baht a year earlier.

Airlines across the world are trying to respond to the drop in travel from the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, Sumeth and other Thai Airways executives took a salary cut in a bid to reduce expenses.

Thailand on Thursday reported the biggest daily increase of confirmed virus patients, with 11 new cases, bringing the country’s total to 70.

Globally, more than 126,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus and more than 4,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

On Wednesday the government announced it would temporarily suspend issuing visas on arrival to visitors from 19 countries and territories, including China.

Tourist arrivals slumped 44.3% in February from a year earlier.

Tourism receipts account for about 12% of the Thai economy.

$1 = 31.6600 baht Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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