Pilots get special pay boost

Thai Airways International (THAI) has approved a special payment for pilots and co-pilots to stem a "brain drain".

The monthly special payment, effective in the next three years, on top of the annual salary increase for all staff, was agreed by the airline board on Friday.

Low-echelon staff will receive the highest salary hike of 5-6% while executives will get 2-4%, THAI chairman Ampon Kittiampon said. The salary increment amounts to 600 million baht.

"Despite heavy losses the airline experienced last year, overall staff performance was up," he said, explaining the airline sold more seats in 2012.

A THAI source said the board also approved an extra special payment for pilots, co-pilots and senior co-pilots.

The payment is in keeping with tough competition in the aviation business. It is also designed to solve the problem of pilots leaving the company for better pay offered by other airlines.

The source said the special monthly payment will be spread over three years starting from July. A pilot will receive 8,000 baht a month; a senior co-pilot 7,500 baht a month; and a co-pilot 5,000 baht a month.

The payment is taxable although the airline will help pay part of the tax.

Union chairman Damrong Waikhamanee said the union had no problem with the special payment for the pilots.

THAI employs 1,342 pilots, senior co-pilots and co-pilots.

An airline employee, who declined to be named, said some staff disagreed with the pilot payment as pilots already receive more pay than most other staff.

A pilot, who also requested anonymity, said there have not been many pilots quitting to join other airlines. Those who left were mostly senior co-pilots seeking promotion, he said.

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