Thai Airways International’s board has approved a fleet modernisation programme that will see the airline buy 15 new aircraft and lease 22 more up to 2017. The airline will order: six Boeing 777-300ERs, for delivery from May 2014 through to September 2015; four Airbus A350-900s, for delivery from the second quarter of 2016 through to the third quarter of 2017 and five single-aisle A320-200s for delivery in 2014 and 2015.
21st Jul 2011
Thai Airways to acquire new aircraft
Thai Airways International’s board has approved a fleet modernisation programme that will see the airline buy 15 new aircraft and lease 22 more up to 2017.
The airline will order: six Boeing 777-300ERs, for delivery from May 2014 through to September 2015; four Airbus A350-900s, for delivery from the second quarter of 2016 through to the third quarter of 2017 and five single-aisle A320-200s for delivery in 2014 and 2015.
In addition, eight 787s, eight A350-900s and six A320-200s will be acquired under 12-year operating leases to be delivered, respectively, in 2014-2017, 2016-2017 and 2012-2013. Thai Airways also has outstanding orders for six A380-800s – booked in 2006 with delivery to start in October 2012 – and eight A330-300s, ordered in 2009. Two A330s will be delivered in the third quarter of this year, followed by three a year for the next two years.
The carrier’s decision to replace its Boeing 737-400 narrowbody fleet with the A320 comes as a blow to Boeing, which was offering its Next-Generation 737 family.
The new aircraft acquisition is part of Thai’s plan to enhance its product offering. The carrier is now also installing new economy class seats in 12 Boeing 747-400 aircraft. This is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2013.
Thai Airways Chairman Ampon Kittiampon says in a statement that the carrier expects to generate high profits through continuous strong growth, strengthening its financial position and enhancing its competitiveness in the international market. The carrier is confident the new aircraft will yield substantial fuel and maintenance savings, as well as reducing harmful emissions to help the carrier meet tougher European Union environmental regulations that take effect in January 2012.
According to a Thai Airways official in Bangkok, the board approved a revised fleet modernisation plan ahead of Thailand’s general election on 3 July, for fear that any new government could scrap or shelve the proposal.
“There has been too much political interference in the airline’s operations, which has left the carrier with several aircraft types, engines and also cabin interiors, resulting in high operating costs,” the official tells Asian Aviation, on condition of anonymity.
On 10 June, the board turned down an earlier proposal to acquire 75 single- and twin-aisle aircraft in two phases. The first phase was to cover 37 aircraft to be delivered between 2011 and 2017, followed by 38 more in the second phase, arriving between 2018 and 2022. Last September, Boeing had put forward its own fleet proposal for evaluation by the airline, comprising ten 747-8s, 30 787s, 18 737-NGs and two 747-8 freighters.
With the arrival of the new equipment, Thai Airways will gradually retire 18 747-400s, some of its older 777-200s, 17 A300-600s – which are more than 20 years old – and nine 737-400s, including three now leased to low-cost carrier Nok Air.
Three 777-300ERs, leased from jet Airways, will be returned as the leases expire in 2012. Two of the four 747-400s to be retired later this year will be converted into freighters, with both expected to return to service in the second quarter of 2012.
The A300s, originally decommissioned in 2008 and 2009, were brought back into service in January 2010, to plug a capacity gap caused by a nine-month delay in the supply by Yokohama-based Koito industries of seats for five out of eight new A330s the airline had ordered.
Separately, Ampon denies that the Ministry of Finance plans to reduce its stake in the airline by 1.04 percent to 49.99 percent, declining to elaborate. In early June, Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand said the ministry would sell a 1.04 percent stake in the carrier to the Crown Property Bureau, to make the airline a private company.