Fewer Jumbos In The Sky: Thai Airways To Retire All 747’s By 2024

Thai Airways plans to not only retire its Boeing 747 fleet by 2024, but its Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft as well. This massive fleet shakeup will lead to a more streamlined and optimized product offering for passengers, at the risk of the reduced capacity.

Thai Airways
A Thai Airways Boeing 747 takes off from Phuket International Airport. Photo: Richard Vandervord via Wikipedia

What are the details?

Thai Airways, the flag carrier of Thailand, currently operates a fleet of seven Boeing 747-400s. These aircraft are relatively old, with an average age of 19 years according to Air Fleets and it is about time the airline considered a fleet renewal.

Additionally, Thai Airways also plans to retire its fleet of Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 aircraft. The airline has six Boeing 777-200s, six 777-200ERs and six 777-300. In total, a large 25 aircraft will be retired over the next four years according to CH-Aviation.

The airline has no plans to phase out its fleet of 14 Boeing 777-300ER however. These aircraft will be kept alongside new aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, of which it has eight so far, 12 Airbus A350s and the original six Airbus A380s.

Currently, Thai Airways does not have orders for any new aircraft.

Thai Airways
A Thai Airways 747 at Munich Airport. Photo: Julian Herzog via Wikipedia

Why retire these aircraft?

There are several advantages as to why Thai Airways would risk losing capacity by retiring aircraft.

The first is to modernize the fleet. A newer aircraft not only provides a better passenger experience (quieter engines, better pressurization, bigger cabins) but also better profit margins for the airline. As Thai Airways is currently under financial pressure, it makes sense to remove the more expensive aircraft of the fleet.

There is no doubt that the newer aircraft run circles around the Boeing 747’s fuel efficiency. If Thai Airways keeps the new aircraft for another 20 years, this will easily make the airline millions more.

The airline will also become more streamlined in its product offering. For example, even in its Boeing 747-400 fleet, it has two different configurations… of a single-seat difference. Three Boeing 747s have an additional first-class seat.

This streamlining will also reap advantages when it comes to maintenance and spare parts. If the airline has fewer types of aircraft then it can focus its resources and can quickly fix an aircraft when it breaks down.

Thai Airways
A special Star Alliance livery Boeing 747. Photo: Curimedia via Wikipedia

What will the 2024 fleet look like?

The new Thai Airways wide-body fleet in 2024 will look something like this:

  • Six Airbus A380s – The flagship aircraft of the fleet
  • 16 Airbus A330-300s – Regional wide-body
  • 12 Airbus A350-900s – Long haul wide-body
  • 14 Boeing 777-300ERs – Long haul wide-body
  • Six Boeing 787-8s – Long haul wide-body
  • Two Boeing 787-9s – Same as the above

This does not include any subsidiary airlines that operated short-haul aircraft

This widebody fleet gives the airline plenty of flexibility to serve dense regional routes (for example, Hong Kong to Bangkok) or narrow long-haul routes (such as Phuket to Perth), as well as your standard international flights (Frankfurt to Bangkok).

Whilst it is sad to see the Boeing 747 slowly phased out by airlines around the world, don’t worry if you love the aircraft, Lufthansa has made no plans to retire their type.

What do you think? Is this a good move by the airline?