Thai Airways is in talks with Boeing and Airbus on a potential order of more than 90 jets as it pursues restructuring and gears up for booming travel markets, industry sources told Reuters. The Thai flag carrier, which is in the midst of a bankruptcy protected debt restructuring, has previously indicated a need for 30 or more jets but its latest request for bids opens the door to as many as 95 aircraft, the sources said.
These would include 15 narrow-body jets and up to 80 wide-bodies, the sources said, marking one of the largest orders for big jets from Southeast Asia in recent years. Sector experts say such large orders are typically spread out over a decade or so.
Boeing and Airbus declined to comment on any commercial discussions with their customers. In a statement to Reuters, the airline said it was at the “very early stage” of exploring the market for various studies.
It added that no decisions had been made on long-term strategies, “most particularly the fleet”, and no commitments had been made.
In June Chief Executive Chai Eamsiri told Reuters that Thai Airways aimed to finalise a deal to buy 30 wide-body jets and an undisclosed number of narrow-bodies by the end of the year.
The Southeast Asian carrier is looking to make the most of a post-pandemic travel boom by bolstering regional routes, but there have been concerns over the ability of planemakers Airbus and Boeing to ramp up output to meet surging demand.
Thai Airways, which began the restructuring of debt worth 400 billion baht ($11.17 billion) in 2021, has a fleet of 20 Airbus A320 aircraft and has secured a dozen new A321neo jets on lease for delivery in 2025 and 2026.
It also operates a mixed fleet of about 45 larger wide-body jets including the recent Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 and the older Boeing 777 and Airbus A330. In the short-term, the wide-body fleet will increase from 45 to 56 aircraft by the first quarter of next year through leases, Chai told Reuters in June.
Those planes will be used on long-distance intercontinental routes to Australia and Europe, routes that have been recovering strongly.
The airline has said that its pandemic-driven restructuring plan is on track and it aims to relist on the stock market by the first quarter of 2025.
It swung to a net profit of 2.2 billion baht ($61.8 million)in the second quarter of this year, from a 3 billion baht loss a year earlier, having made a loss nearly every year from 2012 to 2021. ($1 = 35.6100 baht)