What Happened To Thai Airways Airbus A340 Aircraft?

It has now been over four years since Thai Airways International retired its Airbus A340 aircraft. The airline operated the A340’s last flights on the 28th March 2016. Flight Global reported at the time that the A340’s last flights for Thai Airways were the Singapore-Bangkok, Zurich-Singapore and Frankfurt-Bangkok routes.

Thai Airways Airbus A340-600
Thai retired A340 from their routes in March 2015. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Subsequently, the airline was reported to have stated that they intended to sell the aircraft post-retirement. However, according to Planespotters, nine out of Thai Airway’s 10 A340s are still in storage, nearly half a decade later. So with prospects of sales made back in 2019, why are 90% of the units still in holdings?

High costs

In February 2017, AeroTime reported that a spokesperson blamed low market demand for the sales troubles. The A340s were initially acquired by Thai Airways between 2002 and 2003 when the cost of jet fuel was low. The order included four A340-500s and six A340-600s. However, the rising cost of fuel had a negative impact on profits made from routes using this airliner.

The bleak cost to profit ratio was a catalyst for the airline to give up its goals for the widebody. The efficient, Airbus A350 has been implemented by Thai on similar, long-term routes over the years. These economic factors may be why Thai Airways is struggling to find a willing buyer for the long-range jet.

Thai Airways A340-600
Despite efforts to sell, the A340s still sit in Thai’s storage. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

Set to sell?

Two years later, Thai are still expressing their interest in selling the A340s. This summer, The Nation reported that Thai expects to sign a sales agreement with a US logistics firm on eight of the nine aircraft. According to the airline’s President, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, the deal is set to be worth 4 to 4.5 billion baht ($130m – $145m).

Sumeth said that they are currently going through terms of the contract with the firm before confirming the sale. The Nation quote him as saying,

“We are studying details of the contract, especially in the area of pre-operational maintenance activities.”

Sumeth also stated that they submitted the proposal to Thailand’s Transport Ministry. The deal is under consideration as a policy matter, before going to the Cabinet for approval.

“I would affirm that the purchase of new aircraft is quite necessary as it will raise our competitiveness. I believe the new administration will approve the plan,” Sumeth concluded.

Thai Airways Airbus A340-600
High operational costs may be implicating the sale of the airliner. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

Thai seeking a turnaround

Until the sale goes through, the majority of the A340s are still in storage with Thai. However, one of the units did manage to be shifted. CH-Aviation reported that the Royal Thai Air Force acquired an A340-500 from Thai Airways back in May 2016. The sale was reported to be worth 1.745 billion baht ($56.9m).

Thai have been suffering from a series of losses over in recent years. In an effort to turn things around, the carrier has implemented a new strategy to increase profits. Part of the new plan is for the airline to ask its customers for their cost-cutting ideas.

The firm will be hoping that the sale of its redundant airliners will go through soon. Any money made returned these units will be valued as the company seeks to increase revenue within its new strategy.

Simple Flying reached out to Thai Airways for comment but had not heard back prior to publication. We will update with any further information.

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