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Thu, 15 February 2024

Thai Airways to Unveil Details of Boeing Aircraft Order at Singapore Air Show 2024

(15/02/24)  Thai Airways says that it has reached an agreement with Boeing and GE Aerospace to acquire mid and long range wide-body aircraft and engines.

The agreement consists of a firm order for 45 aircraft, with options for an as yet undisclosed number of additional aircraft. Deliveries are expected to begin from 2027.

The Thai flag carrier has said that it will reveal further details of the aircraft and engine orders at the Singapore Airshow 2024 next week.

Thai’s market share has decreased substantially in the past decade, especially at its Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) hub near Bangkok, from 51.3% in 2013 to 27% in 2023. The decrease is partly due to the limitations of the airline's fleet size and aircraft efficiency.

Thai Airways aircraft at BKK. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
Thai Airways aircraft at BKK. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

The new aircraft will gradually replace expiring leased and aging aircraft, enabling the airline to grow more sustainably, profitably and regain market share.

Thai’s fleet consisted of 100 aircraft in 2013 and only 64 operating aircraft by the end of 2022. That 36% decrease in aircraft is the result of decommissioning and discontinuing the leases of aging and less-fuel efficient aircraft during the carrier's rehabilitation process.

In response to increasing travel demand, Thai Airways bolstered its fleet by acquiring additional aircraft through operating leases in 2022–2023.

Since Q2 2023, the airline has secured 21 additional wide-body aircraft, primarily Airbus A350s equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Thai also plans to introduce Airbus A321neo aircraft into its fleet starting in Q4 2025.

This growth strategy aims to accommodate increasing demand, enhance the overall service quality for passengers and crew, and reduce maintenance and other costs.

Thai’s fleet consisted of 70 aircraft in 2023 and will increase to 79 this year, with a total of 90 aircraft expected by 2025.

Considering the number of aircraft scheduled for decommission and lease expiry, the aircraft order backlog, aircraft production capability, and the significantly increasing demand of aircraft in the aviation industry at the moment, Thai’s fleet, without new aircraft acquisition, would decrease to only 51 aircraft in 2033, a 49% decrease from its size in 2013. Such a small number of aircraft would not generate the revenue needed to repay debts to creditors. However, with the acquisition of 45 new Boeing planes, Thai's revenue generating fleet will reach 96 aircraft, which is still less than in 2013.

The national carrier has said that it remains open to considering various funding models including operating and financial lease and that the acquisition will not affect its ability to repay debts to creditors.

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