The Thai Air Logo Paint Job, Crisis Communications, and Social Media

A couple of Tweets I appended to my last post:

A WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time post explains that such logo masking was once more common. But that was before social media:

A common practice by airlines trying to reduce negative publicity about accidents – masking their company logo on a plane involved in a mishap – is proving ineffective in the social-media age, when passengers and onlookers can snap photos and put out unflattering comments to a global audience within minutes of an incident.


It is now not considered best practice in the airline community to do this,” said John Bailey, the managing director of Icon International, a communications firm that also advises airlines on crisis management.

He pointed out that passengers and airport visitors commonly have smartphones with cameras, marking quite a different world than two decades ago when airlines commonly masked their logos on damaged planes.

“The environment has changed, and the challenge for airlines is infinitely more complicated. If an accident happens in a visible and populated area, the airline can’t hope to match the speed of response of eyewitnesses and survivors,” said Mr. Bailey, who previously worked with the International Air Transport Association.


Update: Thai Airways Logo Paint Job Makes Headlines

An update to my previous post

Update two: September 10 — see Tweets embedded at the end of this post. Star Alliance said last night that “painting over of logos” is not Star Alliance policy. And an emailed statement from Thai Airways shortly thereafter confirmed this.

The AP on last night’s accident:

A Thai Airways Airbus 330-300 skidded off the runway while landing at Bangkok’s main airport after its landing gear malfunctioned, the airline said Monday. Thirteen people were injured while evacuating the plane.

After the accident, workers on a crane blacked out the Thai Airways logo on the tail and body of the aircraft, as part of an effort to protect the airline’s image according to Star Alliance guidelines, an official said. It was the second mishap in less than two weeks for Thailand’s national carrier.


Thai Airways official Smud Poom-On said that “blurring the logo” after an accident was a recommendation from Star Alliance known as the “crisis communication rule,” meant to protect the image of both the airline and other members of Star Alliance.

Then came a Business Insider post, accompanied by Reuters photos, with the headline:

Airline Awkwardly Blacks Out Logo From Jet That Skidded Off The Runway

Click through to see the pics.

Elsewhere, The Guardian has a video, embedded below.

There’s more from The Independent.

Meanwhile, the WSJ has a story putting the accident into perspective:

Two Chinese nationals were hospitalized Monday afternoon after a Thai Airways International PCL THAI.TH +7.69% airliner skidded off the runway on landing at Bangkok’s international airport, in the flag carrier’s most serious mishap in over a decade.


Thai Airways said the A330 aircraft in April underwent a comprehensive maintenance check, which occurs once every five years. It also said the captain in command of the Sunday flight had over 14 years of flying experience. Hours after the incident, Thai Airways applied black paint on parts of the jet to cover the airline name, logo, and registration number, a move the airline said was done according to international practices following an accident.

Indeed, as I Tweeted earlier:

Update 2:



Thai Airways Plane Veers Off Suvarnabhumi Runway; 13 Injured

2013 09 09 thai airways

  • Happened late last night (Sunday night), Bangkok Post reports.
  • Flight TG679, from Guangzhou.
  • Nose gear collapsed; plane slid off runway
  • At least 13 injured
  • Delays expected today (Monday) at Suvarnabhumi airport

The Bangkok Post reports:

A Thai Airways International flight from China veered off the runway as it arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport Sunday, and the airline said at least 13 people were injured in the rough landing.

Authorities at the airport said they could not clear the accident, and flight delays were likely Monday.


THAI president Sorajak Kasemsuvan said the airline had not moved the aircraft from the runway, which was blocked as of Monday morning. There was no need to switch flights to Don Mueang airport, as Suvarnabhumi could manage the situation.

However, some delays are expected for both inbound and outbound flights using the airport on Monday, he said.

The Nation has a story and some photos.

For more, you can see the Thai Airways Twitter feed:

And Richard Barrow has also been Tweeting some images and other information.

Note that Thai Airways says 14 were injured; Bangkok Post says “at least 13”; Nation says 13.


Thai Airways President Fired: News Round-Up

2012 05 23 thai airways piyavasti

Here are a few stories about the firing Monday of Piyasvasti Amranand, head of the country’s flag carrier, Thai Airways.

The official MCOT reports:

The board of directors of Thailand’s national flag carrier Thai Airways International (THAI) on Monday terminated the employment contract of President Piyasvasti Amranand, a decision which stirred outrage among the company’s labour union members.

The THAI board resolved with 12 out of 13 members voting to end the employment contract of Mr Piyasvasti, effective next month and that he will be compensated with six months of his current salary, altogether estimated at Bt6 million.

Citing communication problems as the main reason to sack Mr Piyasvasti, board chairman Ampon Kittiampon explained that the panel made its decision although Mr Piyasvasti had passed his performance assessment with a high score.

Reuters says:

The board of Thai Airways International Pcl sacked its president because of disagreements over strategy, a move that could derail the flag carrier’s attempts to return to profit and which is being questioned by its labour union.

Piyasvasti Amranand, a former energy minister, became president in October 2009 when the opposition Democrat party was in power. He has shaken up the airline and launched cost-cutting measures, including reductions in the salaries of senior executives. Thai Airways is 51 percent owned by the Finance Ministry.

Bloomberg reports:

Thai Airways International Pcl (THAI) Chief Executive Officer Piyasvasti Amranand thought his annual review went well. That didn’t stop the board from firing him.

“I just want the board to explain the reason,” Piyasvasti said at a media briefing yesterday. “It’s ambiguous. The performance of the company during my term has improved in every aspect and I passed the evaluation at 86 percent.”

The board of Thailand’s biggest airline cited a breakdown in communications with Piyasvasti for terminating his contract after three years. Piyasvasti oversaw a fleet modernization and cost cuts in 2009 that helped Thai Air rebound from its largest ever loss the year before to a record profit in 2010. The carrier slipped to another loss last year as fuel costs surged.

Communication problems between Piyasvasti and the board were hampering the company’s effort to meet a profit target of 6 billion baht ($192 million) to 7 billion baht this year, Chairman Ampon Kittiampon said yesterday. Ampon confirmed that Piyasvasti passed the company’s annual performance evaluation.


“The reasons that the board gave, that I have communication problems and differences of opinion with the board, are so strange,” said Piyasvasti, a former energy minister. “I am not that surprised, because the current political environment is like this.”

Elsewhere, BP asks:

Was the removal of the Thai Airways President political?

BP notes that Piyavasti’s wife, according to local media reports, is Anik Amranand:

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Democrat Party and has been an Abhisit adviser. From her parliamentary profile:

Advisor to the Leader of the Opposition (2005-2006)
Expert to the Member of the House of Representatives (2008)
Member of the Advisory Council for Democrat Party (since 2008)
Member of the House of Representatives, Democrat Party, Proportional Representatives, Changwat Cluster 6

BP: She became an MP at the 2011 election, but as you see she has been working officially for the Democrats for a while. This is her prerogative and BP is not suggesting any conflict of interest, but he was appointed by the previous government and his wife is a Democrat MP who has acted as an advisor to Abhisit. Are these not relevant? Heavens above, if the situation was reversed we would have congratulatory stories of a Puea Thai crony being removed after losing over 10 billion Baht last year,* but BP finds it odd in stories about whether he was removed for political reasons that there is no mention of his wife…..

[UPDATE: The answer to the question in the headline is a ‘yes’]

*Obvious factors of the loss are the high oil prices + bad economy so not necessarily down to him, but if he had been making record profits year after year then it would have made it difficult to sack him. He wasn’t though….

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: MCOT.)


Thai Airways Says it’s Ending Nonstop Bangkok-LA Flights

2012 02 10 thai air

Bad news for folks — and I am one — who like to fly Thai Airways nonstop between Bangkok and Los Angeles.

The carrier recently said that as of May 1, TG 794 and 795 will connect in Seoul. And flights won’t be offered on Mon., Wed., and Fri. And the premium economy class is going the way of the dodo.

Here’s the announcement on the Thai Airways U.S. site. (I haven’t seen anything on the Thailand TG site.)

And here’s more from

(Via @Anasuya.)


Thai Airways to launch budget airline next year

2011 05 23 TG

MCOT says Thai Airways will launch a low-cost carrier in April, 2012:

The new airline has not yet been given a name. “Thai Silk”, “Thai Wings” and “Thai Fly” were initially offered for selection by the public and THAI staff.


Mr Ampon added that the board, meanwhile, approved the extension period of THAI and Singapore’s Tiger Airways contract for another three months. If by then Thai Tiger Aiways, earlier planned to be operated by both airlines, cannot yet be set up, Thai Airways International will cancel its joint venture with the Singaporean counterpart.

There are also stories from Reuters, the WSJ and the Bangkok Post.


Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to LA lands safely after bomb threat


AP: FBI: Flight lands in Los Angeles after bomb threat:

LOS ANGELES — A Thai Airways flight from Bangkok landed safely at Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday evening after a bomb threat written in poorly worded English was spotted on a bathroom mirror on the plane, authorities said.

Airport officials were notified at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday of the alleged threat to Los Angeles-bound Flight 794, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

UPDATE: There’s more from AFP.


Thai Airways chief quits over excess baggage scandal

Financial Times:

The executive chairman of Thai Airways has resigned following allegations that he, his wife and another executive had flown with almost 400 kg of baggage between Tokyo and Bangkok last November.

Wallop Bhukkanasut, the chairman, said most of the more than 40 pieces of luggage belonged to an unnamed but important person and contained fruit to be donated to a Bangkok temple. He tendered his resignation before an internal inquiry could report next week.

The alleged incident, leaked by Thai staff disgruntled at cost-cutting at the lossmaking national carrier, produced widespread outrage in Thailand.

“His resignation has set an ethical standard for the airline’s executives on responsibility,” Ampon Kittiampon, the chairman of the board, said yesterday.

Mr Wallop has also been accused by Thai staff of ordering his baggage to be delivered to the lost and found baggage office to avoid customs duty, an allegation he denies.

(Emphasis mine.)

Here’s more info from the Bangkok Post and the WSJ.