BANGKOK, 30 June 2023: Thai Airways InternanRtional has delivered four Airbus A320 aircraft that will be initially deployed on routes to India.
The four aircraft are configured with a single economy class cabin and will be deployed on routes from Bangkok to Delhi TG323/324) starting 1 July 2023 and Bangkok – Mumbai (TG351/352) beginning 2 July 2023.
Commenting on the fleet additions, the airline said the A320s would enhance fleet efficiency, improve aircraft utilisation, and strengthen the THAI route network to support the rising travel demands.
Earlier in the week, Thailand’s National News Bureau reported the airline had entered an agreement to acquire 30 new aircraft by the end of the year and could double its fleet of narrow-body jets over the next decade.
NNT quoted the airline’s chief executive officer Chai Eamsiri who Reuters interviewed at the airline’s headquarters in Bangkok. He confirmed THAI had filed a ‘proposal request’ to Airbus and Boeing for 30 wide-body aircraft and an undisclosed number of narrow-body aircraft.
The carrier aims to capitalise on a post-pandemic travel boom by bolstering regional routes. Still, there is concern over whether Airbus and Boeing can ramp up output to meet delivery targets.
News that the airline can once more buy aircraft will concern passengers still waiting for refunds caused by cancelling flights during the Covid-19 pandemic and companies still waiting to be paid for services rendered when the airline filed for bankruptcy protection.
Chai said THAI, which began a bankruptcy-protected restructuring of debt worth THB400 billion (USD11.17 billion) in 2021, currently has a fleet of 20 A320s and has secured a dozen new A321neo on lease for delivery in 2025 and 2026.
These aircraft would be deployed to serve destinations in Southeast Asia, India, southern China and southern Japan – key medium-haul routes that THAI wants to reinforce.
Chai noted that the carrier’s wide-body fleet would also increase from 45 currently to 56 aircraft by the first quarter of next year, with the additional jets coming on dry lease contracts, which typically do not include flight crew. Chai added that the aircraft would be used on long-distance intercontinental routes to Australia and Europe that have seen a strong recovery since the pandemic.
Chai, a former Thai Airways chief financial officer who took over as CEO last November, said the airline’s pandemic-driven restructuring plan was on track and it would relist on the stock market by the first quarter of 2025.
(Source: TG, NNT, Reuters)