Happy Birthday Thai Airways – 60 years Of Connecting Passengers In Southeast Asia

Yesterday marked 60 years since Thai Airways first emerged. Since 29th March 1960, the flag carrier of Thailand has helped passengers connect across the country and beyond.

Thai Airways Beach
Thai Airways has always been proud to represent its land. Photo: Getty Images

Foreign support

The airline traces its roots back to when domestic outfit Thai Airways Company took on a joint venture with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). According to THAI’s website, SAS initially provided a 30 percent share capital of two million baht ($61,255).

The Scandinavian carrier also supported the project with its experience in operations, management, and business growth. The aim was to fully train Thai nationals as soon as possible so that the airline could operate independently. Therefore, Thai citizens soon became experienced enough to take on higher management roles.

Inaugural flights went from Thailand’s capital of Bangkok to nine international destinations across Asia. Following its success in these continental operations, the company took the leap to longer-distance services. Flights to Australia were launched in 1971 and operations to Europe soon followed in 1972.

National overhaul

On April 1st, 1977 the government of Thailand bought out SAS’ remaining 15 percent share for the operator to fully become a national company. Thereafter, by 1987, less than one percent of the firm’s staff were based abroad.

Thai A350
Despite recent troubles, the carrier has kept growing for over half a century. Photo: Getty Images

Flights to North America commenced in 1980, allowing THAI’s presence to develop rapidly. This growth led to the firm listing its shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand on June 25th, 1991.

Today, Thailand’s Ministry of Finance owns over half of the carrier. THAI now flies to more than 80 destinations in over 35 countries.

It also specializes in connecting passengers to key hubs across its host country. Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui are some of the many popular local destinations that it connects tourists with.

The operator uses its mixture of Airbus and Boeing fleet to transport its customers. According to Planespotters.net, this fleet is split by the following:

  • 15 Airbus A330s
  • 12 Airbus A350 XWBs
  • 6 Airbus A380s
  • 8 Boeing 747s
  • 26 Boeing 777s
  • 8 Boeing 787 Dreamliners

Pride of Thailand

The founding member of Star Alliance also controls two low-cost subsidiaries in the form of Nok Air and THAI Smile, exemplifying the airline’s regional presence. Altogether, these projects support THAI’s vision statement of being “the first choice carrier with touches of Thai”.

THAI Smile Aircraft
Thai Smile focuses on connecting passengers across neighboring Asian destinations. Photo: Getty Images

THAI’s ownership has changed hands over the years and it has seen recent financial struggles. However, the carrier has always had a desire to represent its nation. From its name and livery to its customer service and operations, the pride of Thailand runs deep within the heart of the airline. 

Simple Flying reached out to THAI for comment on its 60th anniversary but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What are your thoughts on THAI’s journey? Do you have any fond memories traveling with the carrier over the years? Let us know what you think in the comment section.