Key Points:

  • Thai Airways is in preliminary discussions with Boeing and Airbus for an order potentially comprising over 90 jets, significantly higher than previous indications.

  • The large order, one of Southeast Asia's biggest in recent years, could include up to 80 wide-body jets and is seen as a preparation for a post-pandemic travel surge.

  • While the airline confirms exploratory market assessments, no firm decisions or commitments regarding the fleet strategy have been declared yet.

Restructuring Thai Airways Ventures Massive Jet Order with Boeing and Airbus

BANGKOK —Thai Airways is reportedly intensifying its restructuring efforts with preliminary talks centered on a substantial fleet expansion, eyeing a potential order that exceeds 90 jets with aerospace giants Boeing and Airbus, according to industry sources in communication with Reuters. This is seen as a strategic move to leverage the anticipated upswing in travel markets, post-pandemic.

Although still under the protection of bankruptcy pertaining to its ongoing debt restructuring, the airline is optimistic, expanding its initial bid which hinted at a need for 30 or more jets, to an ambitious figure that might include as many as 95 aircraft, sources reveal. The tentative request encompasses up to 80 wide-body jets, paired with 15 narrow-body counterparts, marking a significant milestone as one of the most substantial orders originating from Southeast Asia in recent times. Experts in the sector anticipate such a hefty order to be met over a span of a decade or thereabouts.

As Thai Airways navigates this preliminary stage, it remains in the exploratory phase, meticulously assessing various market studies. The carrier communicated to Reuters that the endeavours are in their infancy, with no conclusive long-term strategies drawn, especially concerning the fleet. Despite the floating numbers, commitments remain unsealed, indicating the fluidity of the ongoing discussions.

Earlier in June, Chief Executive Chai Eamsiri expressed intentions to finalize an agreement encompassing 30 wide-body jets along with an undisclosed number of narrow-bodies by the close of the present year. Evidently, Thai Airways is keen on reinforcing regional routes to maximize the benefits of a potential post-pandemic travel resurgence, albeit with underlying concerns regarding the production capacities of Boeing and Airbus to address the surged demand promptly.

Thai Airways, in the midst of rejuvenating its operations following a debt restructuring initiative involving a staggering 400 billion baht (equivalent to $11.17 billion) initiated in 2021, is equipped with a fleet comprising 20 Airbus A320s. Additionally, the airline has ensured the lease of twelve A321neo jets slated for delivery in 2025 and 2026. Currently, its mixed fleet incorporates around 45 larger wide-body aircraft, inclusive of recent acquisitions such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, alongside older models, the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330.

The carrier foresees an increase in its wide-body fleet, projecting a growth from 45 to 56 aircraft by the outset of next year's first quarter, Chief Eamsiri disclosed in June. These additional aircraft will service long-haul intercontinental journeys, focusing on destinations in Europe and Australia, regions witnessing a robust recovery.