Some Aircraft Types May Never Fly Again For Thai Airways

According to a senior government official in Thailand, the nation’s national flag carrier, Thai Airways, may permanently reduce certain types of aircraft from its fleet following the current coronavirus pandemic. Since the COVID-19 crisis began earlier this year in Wuhan, China, Thai Airways has been forced to ground most of its fleet.

Thai Airways
Thai Airways will be looking to get rid of planes once the coronavirus is over. Photo: Getty Images

Following a huge drop in passenger numbers and route cancellations, due to border restrictions, the state-owned airline has been forced to ground 69 of its fleet of 82 aircraft.

Thai Airways needs to come up with a survival plan

The next step that needs to be taken by the Bangkok-based airline is to come up with a plan to survive the coronavirus. Once this is achieved, it can then decide how to operate once the pandemic is over.

In a statement from the airline released on Monday, Reuters quotes the Thai government official responsible for Thai Airways, Transport Minister, Thaworn Senniam, as saying:

“The rehabilitation plan must be done fast because by October if COVID subsides, we will need to deliver services to travelers and tourists.”

He went on to say that the selling of aircraft and other ways of injecting capital into the airline was also being considered.

“We have to reduce aircraft types to as much as possible to reduce cost … we can take out old aircraft, replace them with new ones through leasing or other procurement methods.”

Thai Airways Airbus A380-800 HS-TUA NRT
After the 747 Thai Airways may look to get rid of its A380s. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Flickr

Even before the crippling coronavirus outbreak, Thai Airways had been losing money. The Asian carrier reported a loss of 12.2 billion Baht ($385 million) in 2019. The current ongoing coronavirus emergency and the decline in tourists visiting Thailand has now sped up the airline’s decline.

The Thai government has closed the border to foreigners

To make matters worse, the Thai government announced last week that it was closing its borders to all non-resident foreigners in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus.

Unlike Italy and Spain, where the coronavirus has now killed thousands of people, Thailand reported 136 new cases of the disease on Monday to bring the total number of people infected in the country to 1,524. Of this number, nine people are believed to have died.

While reporting on the new restrictions, Business Insider quotes Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam of saying:

“We are not closing the country, we are still allowing Thai people to return but for foreigners, the country is closed.”

What aircraft should Thai Airways get rid of?

When taking a look at Thai Airways fleet of aircraft we see that they have a mixture of both Boeing and Airbus jets. Thai Airways also only flies long-haul routes, probably due to competition from new Asian low-cost carriers.

When scouring the list of planes, the obvious choice of the first aircraft to sell or retire has to be their Boeing 747s that have an average age of 21.6 years.

The Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 are the best aircraft for Thai Airways. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons

Following the departure of the 747s, the next in line could be Thai Airways’ Airbus A380s. Not only will they be hard to fill with passengers, but they are also uneconomic compared to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.

Thai Airways could further cut costs by operating either an all-Airbus or an all-Boeing fleet. However, that is unlikely to happen given the current makeup of what is almost an equal amount of planes from both manufactures.

Luckily for Thai Airways, they are government-owned and will probably stay in business despite the losses.

Of the Thai Airways fleet, which planes will they get rid of first? Please let us know what you think in the comments.