The flag carrying airline of Thailand, Thai Airways, has announced it will be seriously scaling back services to Australian cities from October 28th 2018. A total of ten flights a week have been cancelled, raising concerns among southern hemisphere hoppers that there could be more to this than meets the eye.
Despite reporting a 50 per cent increase in profits during Q1 of 2018, totalling 3,836m baht, the airline has struggled in recent years. Over 2017, the carrier ended the year with a net loss of 2.11bn baht, which is around $67.41m. They attributed this loss to a combination of increased fuel prices and new fleet purchases.
The scaling back of flights to Australia is ringing alarm bells for frequent fliers of these routes. Could Thai Airways be dropping some Australia routes permanently?
Which Thai Airways Australia routes are being scaled back?
For travelling to or from Australia Thai Airways currently provide four routes all originating in Bangkok (BKK). These connect travellers to Perth (PER), Melbourne (MEL), Brisbane (BNE) and, of course, Sydney (SYD). Here are the ones which are being reduced from October:
Bangkok to Brisbane: Right now, Thai Airways provides a daily flight between these two busy cities, using two Dreamliner’s to service the routes. Flight numbers are TG473/474 and TG 477/478. After the changeover, flights under the TG 477/478 number will be stopped, meaning there will be no provision on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Sundays.
Bangkok to Sydney: The Thai Airways 747 Sydney route is the only route operated by this class of aircraft. The first class on these flights really is first class, but the business class are somewhat lacking. Right now, there are 11 Thai Airways 747 Sydney services, which will be scaled back to just the daily TG475/476 from October. Flights TG471/472 will be no more.
Bangkok to Melbourne: Right now, you can go twice daily between the two cities, served by two Airbus A350’s. From October, there will be 11 instead of 14 flights per week, with TG461 and it’s partner TG462 no longer in service.
Although there will be no change to the schedule between Bangkok and Perth, there is a change to the equipment. Instead of the Boeing 787-8s, there will be Airbus A330s running this route. It’s likely that the reason for this is down to servicing and maintenance requirements of the 787s.
What to do if you’re booked on one of these Australia Thai Airways flights
If you’ve already got a ticket for one of the services which has been cancelled, Thai Airways have specified that you will be allowed to rebook onto one of the other services with no additional charge. If this is inconvenient for you, the carrier has said they will accept requests for refunds.
If you’ve booked through a travel agent, they will be able to handle your refund request. You should note, however, that there is a chance a request will be refused, so it’s better to transfer your flight if you can.
If you do end up with a refund, however, it’s worth seeing if your money can go further with one of Asia’s low-cost carriers. Airlines like Scoot, Philippines and Jetstar all operate direct flights to Oz. Although they lack the refinement of a Thai Airways flight, you’ll probably have enough change for a night or two in a decent hotel.
Will this change be forever?
Many airlines make schedule changes around this time of the year, with announcements being made generally a good month or two before they take effect. The reason for this is purely seasonal, with fewer Australians needing to escape to warmer climates during their own blistering summer weather.
Connections are less in demand too, as fewer travellers choose to head off to Europe during the chilly northern hemisphere winter months. This makes the October to March period an ideal time to scale back, save costs and undertake essential maintenance to aircraft. There is usually a further announcement in January or February about which routes are coming back.
Thai Airways have only said that this schedule change will be for the six months until March 2019. There’s nothing to suggest it will be a permanent change, but we’ll have to wait until the New Year to find out for sure.