Thai Airways International (THAI) has announced its intention to lease an additional 15 aircraft to service long-haul and regional routes by 2014.
The lease agreements will see the company acquire seven 300-seat aircraft for regional routes via a Bt31.3 billion (about $US949 million) financial lease for regional routes, and eight 350-seat aircraft for long-haul routes through operating leases running of between 10 and15 years.
THAI’s chairman, Ampon Kittiampon, said the airline will also set aside an additional Bt922 million ($27.8 million) for two replacement engines for the regional aircraft and Bt3.3 billion ($99.5 million) for three replacement engines for the long-haul aircraft.
The 15 dry leased aircraft are in addition to five A330-300 aircraft already ordered by THAI which will enter service this year and a further six A380 aircraft schedule to enter the fleet in 2012 and 2013.
Mr Ampon said the new energy-efficient aircraft will help THAI meet the European Union’s (EU) stricter greenhouse gas emission restrictions, which will see airlines flying into EU countries face emission quotas commencing in 2012 aimed at lowering greenhouse gases to limit climate change.
The THAI chairman also said the airline will continue to focus on reducing non-fuel expenses by about Bt12 billion ($US361.8 million) this year and on other operational areas aimed at the airline becoming profitable in 2010 as scheduled.
THAI currently operates a mixed fleet of 89 Boeing and Airbus jet aircraft, as well as two French-Italian ATR turbo-prop aircraft with an average fleet age of 11.6 years – considerably older than neighbouring Singapore Airlines (SIA) where the average fleet age is just six years.
The acquisition of the 15 additional aircraft comes on top of an announcement last December that the airline plans to retrofit 12 aircraft at a cost of Bt4.5 billion ($US135.7 million) as part of a fleet renewal plan.
In 2008, THAI, for the first time in its 49-year history, reported an operating loss of around Bt21 billion ($633.3 million) – primarily blamed on poor fuel-hedge pricing strategies that saw it paying above market price after fuel prices dropped from previous record highs.
Feature photo Mattes
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
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