Bankrupt Thai Airways Getting New 777s

Filed Under: Thai

Thai Airways is in bankruptcy protection and on the verge of liquidation, as the airline will run out of cash within weeks without further funding.

The airline has just listed well over two dozen planes on sale, including 10 Boeing 747s and 12 Boeing 777s. Well, the airline will now shortly be acquiring three new 777s, even though most of its fleet is grounded.

Thai Airways taking delivery of three new 777s

Thai Airways will be taking delivery of three new Boeing 777-300ERs shortly, the first of which will potentially be in the carrier’s possession within weeks. Thai Airways committed to leasing these planes back in 2018, though this is the first I’ve heard of it. Below you can already see some of the purple of Thai Airways’ livery on the tail of the 777 in Boeing’s Everett line.

Of course there’s a certain irony to a bankrupt airline with a grounded long haul fleet taking delivery of new 777s, especially as the airline has just retired a dozen 777s.

But of course that’s a story at many airlines nowadays. The airline still has to follow through on its commitments, assuming it can’t negotiate its way out of them.

Now, I can’t help but wonder why Thai Airways decided in 2018 it made sense to lease three more 777s:

  • The airline was already a financial mess
  • The airline already had a ridiculously varied long haul fleet; Thai Airways’ approach to fleet planning is kind of like someone trying to design a free dinner from Costco samples (except I doubt Thai Airways was getting as good of a deal)

What will the interiors be like of Thai Airways’ new 777s?

One big question is how Thai Airways will configure these newly delivered Boeing 777-300ERs:

  • The airline last took delivery of a 777-300ER in 2015, and a lot has advanced with premium cabin airline seats in five years
  • With Thai Airways retiring all of its 747s, which offered a majority of the carrier’s first class capacity, will Thai Airways use these planes to replace those 747s, and therefore offer first class?
  • This can’t help but make me think back fondly on Thai Airways’ old 777-300ER first class, back when the airline leased these planes from Jet Airways (RIP to everything about this)

First class on Thai Airways’ leased Jet Airways 777s

It’s being suggested on that this might be Thai Airways’ first class for these 777s:

Could this be Thai Airways’ 777 first class?

To that I say:

  • This looks a whole lot like British Airways’ 787 first class, just with different finishes
  • On the one hand, this does have Thai Airways’ cabin finishes
  • On the other hand, this picture has been floating around for years, even before Thai Airways announced intentions to lease these three 777s, and is also being used generically by Boeing

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out more about the interiors of these planes. Or who knows, maybe we’ll have to wait a lot longer. I could see Thai Airways taking delivery of these planes without interiors, given that the airline may not be flying these planes for quite a while. Similarly, it’s my understanding that Qatar Airways’ new 787-9s don’t yet have the new (modified) Qsuites installed.

Thai Airways’ beautiful former 747 first class

Bottom line

Thai Airways will shortly be taking delivery of three new Boeing 777s, even though the airline is in bankruptcy protection and has just retired a dozen 777s. Or perhaps more accurately, there’s a 777 that’s nearing completion in Everett with Thai’s colors on it. 😉

It’ll be interesting to see what Thai Airways does with these planes, and also how they’re configured. If the airline is retiring 10 747s, I could see these three 777s being used to replace some former 747 routes, and in that case I could see these planes having first class.

But Thai Airways also works in mysterious ways, so let’s mark this as “developing” for now. If anyone has any more intel, please do share!

  1. TG will never disappear. They’re backed by the government, there’s way too much national pride invested in the airline for the country to let them go away, and on top of that the planes are used by the royal family for personal trips, so having the airline keeping them maintained and ready at all times in a convenience to the King and his entourage. Don’t expect Thailand to behave rationally, or in ways that make sense to those of us from the west from a business standpoint. They’re gonna do what they do. In the wider scheme of what’s broken in Thailand, TG’s financial troubles is just background noise. Nothing to see here.

  2. Irony of ironies . . . Brand new Thai planes complete with First Class Cabin . . . subsidized by poor Thai peasants living in the provinces who will never fly in them to ferry around rich Bangkokians and richer Danes, Germans, Norwegians, and Swedes . . . not to mention their vulgar rich as Midas King. Just gross.

  3. The surprising thing is in spite of the position they are in, one would think that they would opt for a “suite” instead of a business class like seat since to maintain their image of prestige.

  4. Not sure if this is still true but for a time Thai even operated 777s which had different engines than other 777s they had of the same size and spec.

    I’d love to know how the airline came to have so many hard products for their premium cabins and how they get chosen. And it’s not a “the plane is too narrow to accommodate this product” problem or “use better J product for long haul vs short haul” mentality either. (Exhibit 1: Thai 787-8 vs 787-9 vs 777/A380 J product) It’s almost as if they WANT product inconsistency.

    Other example airlines that seem to do this: China Eastern, China Southern and a growing thing with Japan Airlines

  5. King flies about 2-3 times a year to Munich. The route used to be 767, his favorite plane to fly, and occasionally he was left seat. Route was also a daily schedule regardless of demand in case he wanted a lift home/home.

  6. Their Majesties require frequent shuttle flights between Krungthep Mahanakorn and Munich (where the King lives), or Zurich (where the Queen lives).

  7. Decisions Are Mysterious. Thai Airways Should Adhere Similar Air India Model To Seek Alliance With Another Airline And A Business Tycoon With Non Thai Empowered CEO Similar To 1965 Birth Was With Scandinavian Airlines SAS.

  8. Thai King has his own planes …. he would not fly with the great unwashed masses unless there were no other options…. which to my knowledge has never happened before.

    Even when he drives down to 7-11 to buy a pack a ciggies, they close the roads in a 5 mile radius so he would not encounter any traffic with his 50 car convoy.

    If you lived in Thailand, the idea that a bankrupt Thai Airways is taking delivery of new planes would not even raise an eyebrow. Things happen differently here.

  9. Nope! Their Majesties fly with TG’s 747s and 777s between mighty Siam and their preferred residences in Europe. The King’s personal 737 and A340-500 are rarely utilized for their leisure trips, only for official purposes. The royals are the sole reason TG has/had scheduled at least one daily flight ex MUC and ex ZRH — even staffed those flights with specially trained FAs (3 per flight).

  10. If he decides to fly, TG (for a 777) rebooks all passengers sitting between doors 1R/1L and 2R/2L. The first two rows are for him, the third row for his son/consort/other members of the royal family. And all other rows are taken by his entourage. The second galley marks the separation from the mere mortals flying with a demigod. Now that the 747s are up for sale, he gets to fly the 777 with the updated C-Class.

    Even for Sirivanavari, his daughter, they block all seats in F when she flies with TG out of FRA or CDG.

  11. @Flo – I graciously defer to your obviously more intimate knowledge of these issues.

    Having lived in the Kingdom for many years and having observed Official Royal protocols many times, I am surprised to hear that HRH travels with the masses on the same plane.

    We are but dust under his feet.

    But that does explain the daily MUC and ZRH flights.

  12. Flo has it right.

    If you’ve ever been booked on a TG flight in First Class, but at the last minute had a forced downgrade to Business Class, along with every other passenger that had held a First Class ticket, then you got to share the plane with one or more members of the royal family. That’s how they roll: bump every passenger from the forward cabin of the plane and take that themselves.

    It’s good to be king. Amazing Thailand.

  13. TG should ditch First Class. The only ones flying First with TG are their Gold and Platinum members with their upgrade vouchers. So TG is bleeding money and no proper yields in First. These 3 B777 should be sold right away if you cannot push its delivery at least 3 years in the future. TG should concentrate in a premium biz product like QR.
    If you cannot get enough yield on your First product so leave it!

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