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June 13, 2024
Thai Airways A350, by Airbus
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Thai Airways is in discussions with Airbus and Boeing about a widebody order for up to thirty aircraft. CEO Chai Eamsiri told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Istanbul on Sunday. Also on the airline’s shopping list is a number of additional Airbus A321neo’s for low-cost subsidiary Thai Smile. Thai Airways seeks widebody deal with Airbus or Boeing.

The fleet plans follows Thai’s deep restructuring during the Covid crisis, which saw it reduce its fleet and restructure the balance sheet. A long-term plan has been in the making since late last year, with Thai even considering bringing back more store airliners to satisfy demand.

The airline said in its Q1 earnings presentation in May that it operated 65 aircraft and had 21 in storage. Thai sold six Boeing 777-300s but continues to operate six -200s and seventeen -300ERs. The plan is to replace these triple sevens, of which the -200 are on average sixteen years old. The -300ERs are just over five years old.

Thai will formally issue a request for proposal with Boeing and Airbus, although it is believed that the A350 is the favorite to win the campaign. Thai already operates thirteen A350-900s and has redeployed two of them within the network to serve China and Australia. The new aircraft should be delivered from 2026.

A320neo family is a candidate with Thai Smile

Thai Smile operates a fleet of twenty leased A320ceo’s with an average age of almost ten years. They could be replaced with A320neo family aircraft. It isn’t known if Thai Airlines prefers to source them directly from Airbus, which would mean that the airline must join the cue as the A320neo family is sold out until 2029. The alternative is leasing.

Airbus and Boeing’s Chief Commercial Officers are reportedly both in Istanbul to negotiate with Thai. If they are quick, either one of the airframers could announce a deal in two weeks at the Paris Airshow. 

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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