Profitable again, THAI Airways in the market for new planes

THAI Airways said that it will enter talks with global airplane manufacturers about purchasing 30 new widebody jets for its fleet now that it has returned to profitability and air travel is on the rise once again.

Chai Eamsiri, Chief Executive Officer of THAI Airways, said that the national carrier had sent requests to Boeing and Airbus for proposals about what aircraft they would have to offer and how soon they could be built.

THAI, like many airlines, is trying to cope with a surge in air travel brought about by pent up demand now that the worst of the global pandemic has passed. Chai added that THAI’s need for additional capacity is being fuelled by strong long-haul demand from Europe and Australia, despite operating at less than 2019 levels.

Entering the market for new planes is a strong signal that Thailand’s national carrier is operating on a firm footing following a period where the airline went into a financial tailspin as budget carriers in the region snatched up greater shares of the market. Travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic also dealt severe blows to virtually every airline.

THAI entered into rehabilitation and has emerged healthier, posting a first-quarter profit of roughly $360 million at capacity levels of 65–70 percent.

Chai also said that he is aware that the manufacturers have a backlog of orders from other airlines and so he expects it would be several years before THAI could receive new planes.

“We all know that Boeing and Airbus are filling their production slots,” said Chai, speaking at the annual International Air Transport Association meeting of some 300 airlines held in Istanbul, Turkey last week. “I think the earliest that we can get is 2026.”

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