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Week 45


THAI seriously considers Bangkok – Seattle route launch

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November 10th 2017

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Thai Airways International (THAI) is seriously considering adding Seattle to its route map, the airline’s vice-president of network and fleet planning, Chaiyong Ratanapaisalsuk, told Orient Aviation last week. Read More »

At first glance, Seattle appears an odd choice for THAI, which is a founding member of the Star Alliance. The city is a hub for SkyTeam’s Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines.

“We are looking at building partnerships with airlines that are not necessarily Star Alliance members,” Chaiyong said. “We are open to cooperation on many levels.”

The THAI top executive also revealed flights to New York or Chicago could be feasible. “Actually, the distance from Bangkok to New York is almost the same as Bangkok to Los Angeles, which is possible with the B787-9,” he said. THAI is still studying its options in the U.S. with plans for a return to North America set for the fourth quarter of 2018.

THAI took delivery of its second B787-9 last week. The aircraft complements the six -8s in its fleet, which are going through a retrofit at Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services. The airline is adding crew bunks to the -8 fleet, which will allow the carrier to roster the smallest member of the Dreamliner family on routes to Europe without adding crew or blocking seats for crew rest.

THAI will place a new aircraft order soon, most likely before year-end, Chaiyong confirmed, and added all the carrier is waiting for is approval for the order from government. The THAI fleet boss said the airline would order 17 aircraft initially, which will replace its B777-200ER, B747-400 and two B737-400 planes.

Chaiyong said both Airbus and Boeing airplanes were under consideration, but hinted that an order with the U.S. manufacturer was likely.

Boeing senior vice-president sales Asia-Pacific and India, Dinesh Keskar, appeared confident an order was on the horizon. “We appreciate the THAI Airways board having come all this way to Seattle and are confident new orders will be placed in due time,” he told Orient Aviation in Seattle. He added its next-generation aircraft portfolio, evolving around the B777X programme, was a good fit for THAI’s network requirements.

THAI’s has a fleet of 80 aircraft: 15 A330-300s, seven A350-900s, six A380s, two B737-400s for flights to Samui, ten B747-400s, 32 B777 series aircraft and eight B787s. To achieve economies of scale, Chaiyong said THAI was looking at a minimum fleet size of 20 aircraft per type.

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