Thai Airways in talks to add 20 twin-aisle jets to fleet

Thai Airways held advanced discussions with Boeing recently about purchasing its 787-9 wide-body passenger jets. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK – Thai Airways International is in talks to add some 20 twin-aisle passenger jets, according to sources familiar with the matter, as the beleaguered carrier seeks to refresh its fleet amid a travel rebound in South-east Asia.

The airline held advanced discussions with Boeing recently about purchasing its 787-9 wide-body passenger jets, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the details are confidential.

The state-owned carrier may also be speaking to Airbus as airlines typically speak to both plane-makers when in discussions about new acquisitions.

The negotiations are fluid and may not result in a deal, the sources added. Representatives for Thai Airways did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boeing said it does not discuss any conversations it has with customers. An Airbus spokesman also said the company does not “comment on discussions that we may or may not be having with our customers”.

Thailand’s flag carrier is in the midst of a US$5.3 billion (S$7.2 billion) debt rehabilitation plan, having already undertaken painful cuts that saw it eliminate half of its workforce and 40 per cent of its fleet.

Travel in Asia, like the rest of the world, has sprung back faster than expected as Covid-19 restrictions lift, and Thai Airways is bringing back almost half a dozen aircraft it originally put up for sale, in an effort to revive flights more quickly.

Chairman Piyasvasti Amranand said in November that as part of the airline’s efforts to bolster its finances, it plans to issue new shares in 2023 to raise about 25 billion baht (S$972.7 million).

Thai Airways has obtained regulatory approval to increase its registered capital to 336.8 billion baht from 21.8 billion baht by issuing new stock, according to a Nov 25 exchange filing.

The global air travel recovery has also put a squeeze on the number of newer planes that are available. Under its restructuring plan, Thai Airways earlier flagged that it planned to add a total of 10 wide-body jets in 2023 and a further eight in 2024.

The carrier is also mulling over temporarily bringing back some of its six Airbus A380s – the out-of-production double-decker model – from 2024 to fill a gap in demand as it waits for newer, more efficient aircraft to be delivered. BLOOMBERG

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