Thai Airways International (TG)’s first of twelve Airbus A350-900 will be delivered on schedule in 2016.
The Bangkok based airline ordered this aircraft back in 2012. In total, it has 12 A350-900s on order split between four direct and eight on leased from CIT Leasing Corporation.
Here are some fun facts about its delivery:
It is interesting to note that of the first 8 airlines to receive this aircraft variant, more than 50% of them are from Asia. Qatar Airways is the first to receive this aircraft back in December 2015 (Experience The Skies’ coverage). It is also the airline with the most confirmed orders with 80 (split between -900 (43) and -1000 (37)) with Etihad Airways (64) and Singapore Airlines (63) following closer behind.
Fleet Management and Route Deployment
Thai Airways currently have 83 aircrafts in its fleet. As part of management’s plan published in the 2014 annual report and reiterated in Q1/Q2 2015 updates (source), many older aircrafts (such as the Airbus A330-300, Boeing 747-400 and 777-200) will be phased out or replaced by 2018.
The Airbus A350-900, Boeing 787-8 and -9 in conjunction with the existing Airbus A380-800, Boeing 747-400, and 777-300ER will be used to handle Thai Airways medium to long haul routes moving forward.
Initial routes for deployment for the A350-900 will likely be localized (Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG), Singapore (SIN), Tokyo (HND/NRT)). With more aircraft delivery scheduled for 2016 and beyond, longer routes back to North America could be re-considered as service to Los Angeles will end on October 25, 2015 (News – July 23, 2015) .
Additionally, other routes that use the Boeing 777-200 (e.g. Bangkok (BKK) > Stockholm (ARN) > Phuket (HKT)) currently would be candidates for A350-900 replacements.
As overall load factor continued to hover below 70% as reported in the Q2 2015 financial update, Thai Airways would need to continue monitoring yields on all routes to determine if additional frequency or route changes should be made beyond those that were already posted for winter 2015/2016 schedule (source). Given Milan (MXP) is not home to any Star Alliance members and is driven with a lot more competition from the Middle East carriers (Emirates (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY) both have key presence), it could follow Rome (FCO)’s lead and be eliminated from the network.
The A350-900 may be used to eliminate all Boeing 747-400s. While configuration has not been set, expect Thai Airways to include only a Business and Economy Class products on board to maximize seat counts (likely around 300) and yield.
If the airline accelerates its Boeing jumbo jet retirements, it may only operate a First Class service on the Airbus A380-800 moving forward. For the time being, the airline has no plans to sell its 6 double decker aircrafts (source) used for flights to London Heathrow (LHR), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG), Hong Kong (HKG) and Tokyo (NRT).