THAI sells five Airbus A340 planes for THB350 million


The national flag carrier, Thai Airways International, has managed to sell five Airbus A340 series planes that had been parked unused for over 13 years for 350 million baht.

Cherdphan Chotikhun, chief technical officer of THAI, said the airline has sold one A340-500 and four A340-600 planes to a buyer for 350 million baht. He said the buyer has already signed a contract to acquire the planes.

Cherdphan said the five planes will be sold at prices higher than their assessed value. THAI is waiting for the Transport Minister to approve the transfer of ownership of the five planes to the buyer.

Cherdphan said THAI still has four decommissioned A340 series planes and the firm was now negotiating with prospective buyers.

The sale of the five Airbus A340 planes was the latest sale of THAI’s decommissioned planes after the national carrier entered a rehabilitation programme.

Earlier, THAI had sold one Boeing 737-400 plane and 10 Boeing 747-400 planes, earning 2 billion baht.

THAI sells five Airbus A340 planes for THB350 million Cherdphan admitted that it was hard to sell decommissioned A340 series planes and THAI has been trying to sell them for years.

He credited the current successful sale to the rehabilitation programme.

“After we entered the rehabilitation programme, we could disclose full information about the planes and we are now open to prospective buyers with transparency,” Cherdphan explained.

He said THAI had announced the sale on its website and sent emails to over 500 prospect buyers.

“In the past, we were bound by regulations of state firms, which gave us almost no chance to sell the decommissioned planes. As a result, THAI had to shoulder the cost burden of the decommissioned planes for years,” Cherdphan added.

The Cabinet gave the green light for THAI to undergo rehabilitation under the Bankruptcy Act in May 2020, while the airline’s protection filing was granted by a court in June last year.

THAI filed for bankruptcy protection after reporting total debt of 245 billion baht at the end of 2019. The rehabilitation programme requires the airline to halve its 30,000-strong workforce and cut costs to 53 billion baht this year.

THAI bought 10 A340 series planes in 2003 during the first term of the Thaksin Shinawatra government, when Thanong Bidaya was the THAI board chairman.

At that time, THAI had a plan to buy 39 planes from 2002 to 2004 with a budget of over 200 billion baht.

The A340 series planes were used for direct flights from Bangkok to New York and from Bangkok to Los Angeles. But the two routes generated accumulated losses of 7 billion baht in three years of operations, so the routes were cancelled in 2008.

After the 10 A340 series planes were decommissioned, the Royal Thai Air Force bought an A340-500 plane, leaving nine others parked unused at U-Tapao Airport since then.

Cherdphan said THAI has a plan to sell 14 more planes — six Boeing 777-300 planes, six Boeing 777-200 planes and two Airbus A380 planes.

“We are confident we can sell them all. We now know where to find buyers and our sale method is transparent and we have experience in how to do it,” Cherdphan said.

He added that THAI plans to rent two Airbus A350-900 planes to expand flights during the first quarter of next year when more flights are expected.

THAI also plans to reuse five decommissioned planes – two Boeing 777-200 ER planes and three Airbus A330-300 planes – in the fourth quarter of this year, Cherdphan said.

As of June 21, THAI has a fleet of 61 planes but 20 Airbus A320-200 planes are being used by Thai Smile, leaving the national flag carrier with 41 planes for service, comprising 12 Airbus A350-900 planes, four Boeing 777-200ER planes, 17 Boeing 777-300ER planes and eight Boeing 787 planes.