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.
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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’ 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 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?