Thai Airways Orders 45 Boeing 787-9s, Deliveries Start 2027

Thai Airways Orders 45 Boeing 787-9s, Deliveries Start 2027

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In 2023, there were rumors that Thai Airways was in negotiations with both Airbus and Boeing over a new wide body aircraft order, with the focus being on the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787. Several weeks ago, we learned that Thai Airways had decided on the Boeing 787. Well, that order has now been officially announced.

Thai Airways acquiring up to 80 Boeing 787s

Thai Airways has finalized an order for up to 80 Boeing 787s, including a firm order for 45 jets, plus options for 35 additional jets. The Star Alliance carrier has exclusively selected the 787-9 variant, which is the middle sized Dreamliner, with incredible range. The first new 787-9 is expected to join Thai Airways’ fleet in 2027.

The order was actually finalized in December 2023, and had been reflected in Boeing’s published order backlog under an undisclosed customer. So several weeks later, we’re finally seeing a formal announcement of this, coinciding with the Singapore Airshow.

Thai Airways has been undergoing quite the transformation in recent years. The airline was struggling financially even before the pandemic, and then the pandemic only exacerbated the carrier’s issues. However, with the popularity of Thailand as a travel destination, the airline is finally trying to capitalize on travel demand in a more sustainable way.

Thai Airways is picking up dozens of Dreamliners

Thai Airways’ fleet is currently all over the place

Historically Thai Airways’ fleet has been unnecessarily varied, in a way that was completely irrational. Thai Airways currently has around 70 jets. Airbus jets include A320s, A330-300s, and A350-900s, while Boeing jets include 777-200ERs, 777-300ERs, 787-8s, and 787-9s.

This already represents a major fleet simplification, because before the pandemic, the airline also flew Airbus A380s and Boeing 747-400s. And we won’t even go back before that, when the airline also flew A340-500s and A340-600s. What’s so strange is how few of each aircraft type Thai Airways has flown, in a way that simply doesn’t make sense.

For example, since 2017, Thai Airways has been operating a fleet of exactly two 787-9s. That’s such a small fleet that you can’t possibly utilize it efficiently, and it’s also one of the reasons that the Star Alliance carrier is so notorious for aircraft swaps. Many of us joke that when we deal with an aircraft swap, we’re “getting TGed” (with “TG” being Thai Airways’ two letter code).

I’m happy to see that Thai Airways is more focused on consistency with its fleet renewal plans. Now, I do think a firm order for 45 jets with 35 additional options seems… aggressive. Thai Airways currently has 50 wide body jets, and of those, eight are 787s and 17 are A350s, so are unlikely to be retired anytime soon.

It sounds like Thai Airways plans to massively grow its long haul fleet. I question how profitably the airline can do that, given the competitive landscape.

Thai Airways has a varied wide body fleet

Bottom line

Thai Airways has placed an order for up to 80 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with 45 firm orders and 35 options. Deliveries are expected to start in 2027. It’s nice to see that the airline is intending to simplify its fleet renewal strategy going forward, since fleet consistency is something the company has struggled with.

I just think the number of aircraft being ordered here is extreme, so I’m curious to see how this plays out.

What do you make of Thai Airways ordering so many Boeing 787s?

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  1. Dick Bupkiss Guest

    Stop expecting things in Thailand to make any sense to you. Wrong country for that.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Another reason to look forward to the third season of White Lotus.

  2. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The lack of interest in the 787-10 is interest. Not all aircraft need to be very long haul capable. The 787-10 is a very efficient high capacity aircraft with strong economics and could easily work alongside the -9s.
    the number of 787s including -9s raises the question of the future of the A350s at TG.

  3. Brian Guest

    In the early 2010s I flew a four-leg all-widebody roundtrip on Thai that had me on a 777-200, A310 (believe it), 747-200 and a A340-600.

  4. Azamaraal Guest

    Just finished 4 legs on TK, A350, 787, 2xA320

    All flights pleasant but TK 787 Biz is far superior to A350. Good choice TK

    Suffered horrible Biz LH SFO-MUN on A350 (old biz). The bruises on my backside are almost gone after 3 weeks. Horrid narrow bed that "bites". Totally missing in-flight services.

    Just finished short hop SIN-DPS on 777 300ER in premium economy. Better than AS first and would consider day flight up to...

    Just finished 4 legs on TK, A350, 787, 2xA320

    All flights pleasant but TK 787 Biz is far superior to A350. Good choice TK

    Suffered horrible Biz LH SFO-MUN on A350 (old biz). The bruises on my backside are almost gone after 3 weeks. Horrid narrow bed that "bites". Totally missing in-flight services.

    Just finished short hop SIN-DPS on 777 300ER in premium economy. Better than AS first and would consider day flight up to 10 hours.

    So at the end of the day, it's the Airline mostly, not the airplane.

    TK is as good as it was in 1986!

  5. Ashley Hammond Guest

    So when are Thai airways commencing flights in & out of Perth, Western Australia ?
    This a 7.5 hours flight time, Is this considered a short route of a long route ?

    1. Nick Guest

      Thai will re-launch Perth flights by 31st Feb, and they'll use B788s for this route.

  6. Sweet Latinas for Trump Guest

    Thai air seriously needs to bring back its NYC - BKK route ! hopefully this time Thai will better promote and advertise this tremendous route from Kennedy to Bangkok !

    1. Karn Guest

      That NY nonstop flight from Bangkok caused Thai airways lost tons of money. TG can't compete with middle east carrier for east coast route.

  7. Anthony Guest

    Just wondering where is all the money coming from, or who is offering such huge debt offerings in this current debt environment.

    I do not understand Airline financing and leasing and such, but Boeing is in the USA and there are big debts, banks, corporate and Govt.

    Anybody want to help explain? Thanks.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      aircraft are solid investments. Boeing doesn't have to provide the financing itself but has no shortage of banks that are willing to backstop any financing that Boeing arranges.
      And this sale is probably eligible for the US Exim bank which is specifically intended to boost sales of US manufactured goods - and benefits Boeing the most. Europe has a similar structure for Airbus. By agreement, European and US airlines cannot benefit from either bank.

    2. ImmortalSynn Guest

      Aircraft, like most vehicular financing, is an asset-secured transaction. So while creditworthiness is of course a requirement, it's not as paramount as it would otherwise be, if non-secured.

      (though lessors to Russian operators may feel differently, right about now)

  8. julian zentner Guest

    This is still not confirmed.

  9. David S Guest

    Go to BKK and there are huge columns of old Thai aircraft parked up inc A380’s and the B747’s. Wierd they have no strategy for disposing of them. An opportunity for Global Airways

  10. Nick Guest

    Acquiring 45 additional jets might seem too much, but to me it makes quite a lot of sense. TG retiring many jets during the Pandemic not only simplified the fleet, but also decreased the fleet size significantly that it's now insufficient to meet the demands they're facing now, given that Thailand has a travel boom.

    I hope acquisition of those Dreamliners and other jets (they're apparently leasing some ex-Virgin Atlantic A333s) help them to restore...

    Acquiring 45 additional jets might seem too much, but to me it makes quite a lot of sense. TG retiring many jets during the Pandemic not only simplified the fleet, but also decreased the fleet size significantly that it's now insufficient to meet the demands they're facing now, given that Thailand has a travel boom.

    I hope acquisition of those Dreamliners and other jets (they're apparently leasing some ex-Virgin Atlantic A333s) help them to restore their pre-Pandemic coverages, and maybe the return of international flights from/to Phuket.

    It would be nice to see TG re-configuring some of their 2-class B77Ws to 3-class layout, too. And of course, they should retire their B772s ASAP...

  11. Nick Guest

    Acquiring 45 additional jets might seem too much, but to me it makes quite a lot of sense. TG retiring many jets during the Pandemic not only simplified the fleet, but also decreased the fleet size significantly that it's now insufficient to meet the demands they're facing now, given that Thailand has a travel boom.

    I hope acquisition of those Dreamliners and other jets (they're apparently leasing some ex-Virgin Atlantic A333s) helps them to restore...

    Acquiring 45 additional jets might seem too much, but to me it makes quite a lot of sense. TG retiring many jets during the Pandemic not only simplified the fleet, but also decreased the fleet size significantly that it's now insufficient to meet the demands they're facing now, given that Thailand has a travel boom.

    I hope acquisition of those Dreamliners and other jets (they're apparently leasing some ex-Virgin Atlantic A333s) helps them to restore their pre-Pandemic coverages, and maybe the return of international flights from/to Phuket.

    It would be nice to see TG re-configuring some of their 2-class B77Ws to 3-class layout, too. And of course, they should retire their B772s ASAP...

  12. Lillian Carbonneau Guest

    Thai B777s are a piece of junk. I had an aircraft swap with a B777 with broken seats and all entertainment screens had stopped functioning a long time ago. It should be illegal to still operate this kind of junk in the sky.

  13. StevieMIA Guest

    Beautiful livery, nice to see it on more 787s! Does this mark the end of Thai's history of whimsical fleet planning? Are they moving towards an all boeing widebody fleet?

  14. Alisson Guest

    Had a KIX-BKK fist class award booked for March, but Thai cancelled first on that route (just FIWY).

  15. Rob Guest

    45 jets may not all be for long haul. In Asia, it is quite common to run widebodies on relatively short hops like HKG-BKK or BKK-SIN. Perhaps a large portion of this order are 787-10s to fly around Asia.

  16. USUKHKflyer New Member

    Getting them cheap with the situation Boeing is in?

    1. ImmortalSynn Guest

      Boeing hasn't had any issue at all selling 787s. In fact, it's now the highest selling wide-body family of all time, if I'm not mistaken. Their problem has been QC issues in South Carolina, causing the line to shut down three times in four years.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      The repeated production delays doesn't change that Boeing might be selling them cheap.
      The competition is the A350 which has higher acquisition costs but lower operating costs per passenger.

      and South Carolina is a Boeing facility so it really doesn't matter where the problem lies.
      Boeing rushed to move 787 production to SC to bust its unions in the Seattle area and has undoubtedly spent more on cost overruns than they saved on labor costs.

    3. Kor Guest

      Yeah. One grounding, major delivery delays. Boeing must be selling them dirt cheap!

  17. VT-CIE Diamond

    Thai Airways must retire its five 777-200ERs with immediate effect. I say this as someone who was struck twice by ‘lightning’: first in June 2022 and then in November 2023, when the promised 787-8 (from Chennai to BKK) or A350 (from Bengaluru to BKK) was replaced at the last moment by a 777-200ER. When you’re not going to refurbish it, why disappoint your passengers? Worse, it has a number of newer A330-300s that it isn’t...

    Thai Airways must retire its five 777-200ERs with immediate effect. I say this as someone who was struck twice by ‘lightning’: first in June 2022 and then in November 2023, when the promised 787-8 (from Chennai to BKK) or A350 (from Bengaluru to BKK) was replaced at the last moment by a 777-200ER. When you’re not going to refurbish it, why disappoint your passengers? Worse, it has a number of newer A330-300s that it isn’t bringing back.

    In general, unlike European and US airlines — like AF, BA, OS and KL in Europe, plus UA, AA and previously DL — which refurbish their 1990s/early-2000s-era 777-200ER with new products, Asian airlines' 777-200ERs are uniformly ancient and horrible. I’m only too glad that we have seen the last of SQ’s, MH’s and VN’s 777-200ERs, but I wish I could say the same for TG, KE or OZ, whose 777-200ERs look exactly the same as when they were delivered. I trust NH and JL are in the process of retiring theirs. Good riddance, and all the more reason to be wary of TG or the Korean duo for a sudden nasty surprise.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You have no idea how TG KE OZ was orginally delivered.

      You take things for granted too much, and probably want to curse Shiva if you actually saw what was originally delivered.

      And you have to accept the facts, TG and other Asian carriers tend to fly their worst planes to South Asia, especially outside BOM or DEL.

    2. JP Guest

      Too bad. TG repainted their B772s quite recently and seems like it'll take a part of TG fleet for a while, my assumption being until they receive those new 787s.

      And at least all OZ B772s feature 1-2-1 config business class (direct isle access for all seats) since a long time ago. Three of them has old economy class but I guess it's out of your interest. I suggest you to research more rather than...

      Too bad. TG repainted their B772s quite recently and seems like it'll take a part of TG fleet for a while, my assumption being until they receive those new 787s.

      And at least all OZ B772s feature 1-2-1 config business class (direct isle access for all seats) since a long time ago. Three of them has old economy class but I guess it's out of your interest. I suggest you to research more rather than relying on your knowledge.

      Plus both ANA and JAL mainly fly (flew for JAL) B772s in their domestic operations, and they have some B763s with a config possibly even worse than what KE and TG B772s have - not a relevant comparison.

    3. A_Japanese Gold

      JAL retired 763s with recliner seat from international service and all international 763s have 1-2-1 staggered full-flat seats. ANA has some 763s and even 787s with 2-2-2 cradle seats, but they are typically flying short Korea/Taiwan/China routes.
      KE will replace 772 with 787-10, but it seems it will take some time as 787 deliveries are delaying. OZ will also retire them as merger with KE is getting more likely to be approved.

  18. Trey Guest

    Thai used to (just before COVID) run A330s, old 747s and even 777s on 1-hour short hauls (think BKK to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Saigon, Yangon, etc.). Almost all these flights have been downguaged to A320s (ex. Thai Smile); you gotta figure some of these new 787s or rather ALL A350s may be reconfigured for regional service (à la JAL)?

  19. Tim Dunn Diamond

    There are undoubtedly a host of factors but many medium and smaller airlines order from both Airbus and Boeing because of political considerations. If part of getting Thailand off the FAA's naughty list, then a Boeing order can make sense.

    The B787 is a cheaper aircraft than the A350 which means basic costs could have been a factor.
    Thai wanted to renegotiate its engine maintenance contract with Rolls-Royce, exclusive supplier of engines for all...

    There are undoubtedly a host of factors but many medium and smaller airlines order from both Airbus and Boeing because of political considerations. If part of getting Thailand off the FAA's naughty list, then a Boeing order can make sense.

    The B787 is a cheaper aircraft than the A350 which means basic costs could have been a factor.
    Thai wanted to renegotiate its engine maintenance contract with Rolls-Royce, exclusive supplier of engines for all new generation Airbus widebodies and Rolls apparently balked.
    Air France/KLM was designated a Rolls-Royce XWB overhaul facility as part of their large A350 order.
    Delta finally was able to come to agreement on the A350-1000 order because they got the MRO contract for the XWB97 which powers the -1000, rights it already had for the XWB84 that powers the -900.
    Emirates has criticized engine durability on the A350 but would undoubtedly sign up for the A350-1000 very quickly if Rolls gave them the MRO deal - but that doesn't appear to be happening.

    This deal is undoubtedly as much about finances as anything else.

    The B787-10 is probably the best plane for Thai. It can cover all of the Pacific Rim and most of its longhaul network except for parts of Europe and the US.

    It will be interesting to see if Thai gets rid of their A350 fleet and focuses on the 787; it would make sense to do that if they were serious about getting costs under control. It would also help explain the size of the 787 order.

  20. jmguerrero Guest

    Show me the Money!!

  21. Jordan Diamond

    They are preparing for the "split", that's all.

  22. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    P.S. still waiting for someone, anyone, to explain why exactly Thailand is on the FAA's IASA Category-2 list, preventing additional service.

    No one else seems to have much of a problem with Thailand's aviation security structure, so what's the US' reason?

    ....I'd love to see some of these (or the A350s) used to resume nonstops to LAX!

    1. Mantis Gold

      I'd love to see that too, but I doubt it will happen. First, because it would be tough to make a long leisure route like that profitable, and second, because I doubt Thailand has the commitment to overcome their culture of rampant corruption and mai bpen rai, good enough culture to get their cat1 rating back. I honestly don't mind connecting in Japan, spending a day or two in Tokyo. So unless there's a BKK-SFO...

      I'd love to see that too, but I doubt it will happen. First, because it would be tough to make a long leisure route like that profitable, and second, because I doubt Thailand has the commitment to overcome their culture of rampant corruption and mai bpen rai, good enough culture to get their cat1 rating back. I honestly don't mind connecting in Japan, spending a day or two in Tokyo. So unless there's a BKK-SFO direct flight I'd rather connect in Tokyo than in LAX or SEA.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      What'd you expect from FAA, the regulator with the blood of MAX victims on their hands.

      Let's face it, EASA or CAAC should be where you look for standards.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Perhaps, but the reason I'm asking is because it doesn't appear to actually be about safety...

      ...if it was, then other regulators (such as the ones you mentioned) would likely raise an issue as well, yet none of them have.

      FAA has no problem allowing flights from airports in places like Nigeria, which since 2000 has had nearly a dozen incidents of fence-jumpers and wheel-well stowaways boarding flights, unauthorized; but for some reason it...

      Perhaps, but the reason I'm asking is because it doesn't appear to actually be about safety...

      ...if it was, then other regulators (such as the ones you mentioned) would likely raise an issue as well, yet none of them have.

      FAA has no problem allowing flights from airports in places like Nigeria, which since 2000 has had nearly a dozen incidents of fence-jumpers and wheel-well stowaways boarding flights, unauthorized; but for some reason it takes issue with Thai airports, whom no one else in East nor West seems to have a problem with?

      Very strange.

    4. Eskimo Guest

      The issue is mainly because the Thai regulators didn't have proper oversight up to FAA standards.

      Ironically, FAA dropped the oversight ball themselves with the MAX fiasco.

    5. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      That's the claim, yes... but again, my question is: why doesn't any other regulator, many of whom have similar such standards, have an issue with Thailand?

    6. STEFFL Gold

      .... simply because Thailand and especially Thai Airways, is NOT the best airline, when it comes to safety and reliability in airline safety!
      Crews still standing in the Galley while final approach is already going on.
      Cockpit call outs ignored or not understood, . . . that could lead to a tragic end at some point, happened to me on A380 LHR-BKK and also HKT-BKK.
      Friendliness alone, does NOT make a good...

      .... simply because Thailand and especially Thai Airways, is NOT the best airline, when it comes to safety and reliability in airline safety!
      Crews still standing in the Galley while final approach is already going on.
      Cockpit call outs ignored or not understood, . . . that could lead to a tragic end at some point, happened to me on A380 LHR-BKK and also HKT-BKK.
      Friendliness alone, does NOT make a good airline!
      Safety is the main reason, why people should consider to fly a specific carrier!
      US is doing the only REAL thing.
      Check, check, check and since TG has pulled out of US market and UA also stopped there BKK service from HKG due to not being worth it, i guess that says a lot already.
      Even US West Coast - BKK would not be worth it.
      Simply the passenger demand for low price tickets to Thailand, do NOT make a route profitable.
      Business demand, i don't think is that high? And flying to Australia, South East Asia, Middle East or simply just Thailand, there is way better options on the marked by now.

    7. Eskimo Guest

      @STEFFL

      Your statement contradicts itself.
      "Thai Airways, is NOT the best airline, when it comes to safety and reliability"
      "UA also stopped there BKK service from HKG"
      So if it's a TG thing, why would UA care, rather as a *A partner, they should have increase flights to pick up TG's shotcomings.

      You are full of the Tim Dunn fluff, mixing regulators, profitability, safety, and friendliness.

    8. Dick Bupkiss Guest

      Thailand has a bad record when it comes to things like...off-duty Thai police officers arriving in Japan for a vacation found to have guns (including loaded guns!) in their carry-on bags. Oops. More than once. Ouch.

      Amazing Thailand!

  23. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    I'd imagine at least 10 of these will go towards eventually replacing their 772 and A333 fleets...

    ...with others serving to recover the capacity lost after shedding the A380s.

    So a lot of potential growth, but doesn't really seem all that aggressive, when viewed in that context.

  24. Mak Guest

    Boeing is in the enviable position of having their only competitor in the market totally sold out and without any of it's superior planes to sell into the distant future. Boeing can only win with the 787 by default by selling to the desperate.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      feel free to let show us the evidence that Boeing has 787 production slots but Airbus does not.
      Delta just ordered more A350s (the -1000) with first deliveries in 2026 while Air France/KLM placed an order just a few months before and also say first deliveries are in 2026.

      In contrast, United's CEO said 1 1/2 years ago that they were ordering such a massive amount of 787s because delivery slots were running out...

      feel free to let show us the evidence that Boeing has 787 production slots but Airbus does not.
      Delta just ordered more A350s (the -1000) with first deliveries in 2026 while Air France/KLM placed an order just a few months before and also say first deliveries are in 2026.

      In contrast, United's CEO said 1 1/2 years ago that they were ordering such a massive amount of 787s because delivery slots were running out - and yet there have been multiple large orders some of which specifically say include deliveries within 2 years which is as fast as any widebody can be built. UA's statement appears to be false.

      Both Airbus and Boeing move production slots around with customers on a regular basis, sometimes paying them to give up early slots - which is exactly what UA is asking Airbus to do with the A321NEO in order to offset MAX delivery delays.

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ConcordeBoy Diamond

P.S. still waiting for someone, anyone, to explain why exactly Thailand is on the FAA's IASA Category-2 list, preventing additional service. No one else seems to have much of a problem with Thailand's aviation security structure, so what's the US' reason? ....I'd love to see some of these (or the A350s) used to resume nonstops to LAX!

5
TravelinWilly Diamond

Lipstick on a pig.

4
VT-CIE Diamond

Thai Airways must retire its five 777-200ERs with immediate effect. I say this as someone who was struck twice by ‘lightning’: first in June 2022 and then in November 2023, when the promised 787-8 (from Chennai to BKK) or A350 (from Bengaluru to BKK) was replaced at the last moment by a 777-200ER. When you’re not going to refurbish it, why disappoint your passengers? Worse, it has a number of newer A330-300s that it isn’t bringing back. In general, unlike European and US airlines — like AF, BA, OS and KL in Europe, plus UA, AA and previously DL — which refurbish their 1990s/early-2000s-era 777-200ER with new products, Asian airlines' 777-200ERs are uniformly ancient and horrible. I’m only too glad that we have seen the last of SQ’s, MH’s and VN’s 777-200ERs, but I wish I could say the same for TG, KE or OZ, whose 777-200ERs look exactly the same as when they were delivered. I trust NH and JL are in the process of retiring theirs. Good riddance, and all the more reason to be wary of TG or the Korean duo for a sudden nasty surprise.

3
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