Wallop Bhukkanasut is the former chairman of Thai Airways. As reported by the Bangkok Post, this week the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has sentenced Wallop to two years in jail over an incident that occurred on a 2009 flight. Wallop is charged with violating Section 11 of the Act on Offences Committed by Officials of State Organisations or Agencies.
So, what exactly happened? In November 2009, Wallop and his wife were flying from Tokyo Narita to Bangkok, and he was traveling with 300kg of excess luggage. He was found to have abused his authority by forcing airline staff to change the recorded weight of his luggage so that he could avoid excess baggage fees. Presumably there are two things wrong with this:
- He avoided the fees he should have paid for, and abused his power
- On the surface it presents a safety risk when you’re not correctly recording the weight of luggage; this is unlikely to be an issue on a wide body aircraft, but as a concept it’s a slippery slope
Thai Airways’ former chairman tried to avoid excess baggage fees
In 2010 he was ordered to pay the excess baggage fees, and also resigned as chairman of the airline.
However, it’s only now that a case has been brought against him that’s causing him to be jailed, over a decade later. He has also been found guilty of accepting gifts, including Kobe beef and expensive fruit, from a private firm.
I’m not familiar with the political implications here, but I’d have to imagine there’s a reason that he’s being targeted over a decade later, when he had already been forced to pay the excess baggage fees?
Wallop isn’t the first airline executive to be charged with corruption. Garuda Indonesia’s former CEO was jailed and fined for smuggling goods into Indonesia on an Airbus A330-900neo delivery flight.
Garuda Indonesia’s former CEO was jailed for avoiding import taxes
Thai Airways’ former chairman is being jailed for two years for abusing his power. This involves a 2009 flight where he avoided excess baggage fees on his 300kg of luggage by getting the airport staff to pretend his bags weren’t as heavy as they were.
He was already forced to pay the excess baggage fees in 2010 after an investigation, so one has to wonder what’s going on here that’s causing him to be jailed more than a decade later.