Thai Airways plans to expand fleet as tourism business picks up


Thai Airways International (THAI) will purchase 51 aircraft by 2027 in line with its expansion plans and to replace old airplanes.

The THAI fleet comprises 65 aircraft, 45 of which are wide-bodied ones and 20 narrow-body that have been loaned to THAI’s subsidiary, Thai Smile Airways.

THAI CEO Chai Eamsiri said on Saturday the 51 aircraft to be procured will include 10 Airbus A321neo, 11 Airbus A350-900 and the remaining 30, other wide-body aircraft.

He said the Airbus A321neo will be delivered in 2025, while the delivery of the Airbus A350-900 will start with four being delivered over the course of this year.

The Airbus A350-900 will help improve the airline’s flight efficiency, especially when it comes to European routes, Chai said.

He added that THAI is waiting for Boeing and Airbus's proposal to cover its wide-body aircraft needs. The airline expects these aircraft to be delivered between 2026-2027.

He added that the airline is considering procuring the new fleet under a lease or hire-purchase scheme to stabilise its finances.

Procuring new aircraft is currently tough as many airlines are trying to expand their fleet to meet rising demand, he said, adding that airlines are also looking to procure planes that can save fuel, maintenance and labour costs.

Chai said THAI is procuring the new aircraft to boost its competitiveness, as having just 45 wide-body aircraft in its fleet is not enough. He added that the Thai Smile-THAI merger will be completed within this year.

THAI expects to serve 9 million passengers and generate up to 140 billion baht this year, he said, adding that the airline hopes to carry 12 million passengers and generate up to 160 billion baht by 2024.

He added that THAI is selling unnecessary assets to reduce its maintenance costs, such as aircraft that will be decommissioned and sales offices both in Thailand and overseas.

The national carrier made 12.5 billion baht in net profits in the first quarter of this year.

To raise more funds, THAI will change its debt into equity and launch preferential offerings in the second quarter of 2024. Its aim is to be listed in the Stock Exchange of Thailand by the fourth quarter of next year and exit the rehabilitation plan by 2025.