New Planes and new Euro Destinations

Thai Airways International (THAI) is planning to add more destinations in Europe in a move to increase revenue as it gets ready to receive 23 new planes by 2013.

Airline president Piyasvasti Amrannand said the company was eyeing four to five new destinations including Brussels and Vienna.

The expansion into Europe is among the airline’s strategies to increase income.

Of the 23 new aircraft, nine Airbus A330-300s are scheduled to be delivered in June and July this year and seven more before April 2013.

In addition, six Airbus A380 jumbos will join the fleet between August 2012 and October 2013. The airline is also scheduled to receive eight Boeing 777-300s during the same period.

Piyasvasti said the aviation sector was currently highly competitive. The major factor was the fast growth of airlines in the Middle East.

Countries in the Middle East are well capitalised so they can make huge orders of new aircraft at one time.

Although soaring oil prices affect all players, including Arabian carriers, those airlines can more easily deal with the issue.

“The growth of airlines in the Middle East disturbs THAI’s revenue from the international market, while domestic share is stolen by lowcost airlines,” he said.

The company has revised its business strategies to cope with the changes.

For example, it has set up a superlowcost airline, Thai Wings, wholly owned by THAI.

Earlier, THAI announced a joint venture with Singaporebased Tiger Airways to run Thai Tiger Airways.

“Still, Thai Tiger Airways has not yet formed so we created Thai Wings, which will operate in the second quarter next year,” said Piyasvasti.

Thai Wings will operate both domestically and around the region.

According to Piyasvasti, results in the second quarter this year were not good – as expected – due to rising oil prices and the crisis in Japan.

However, the airline hopes passenger numbers on Japan routes will recover soon.

In April, the airline adjusted fuel surcharges in a move to cope with the hike in oil prices.

Currently, jet oil costs US$125 to $128 (Bt3,800 to Bt3,900) per barrel.

The airline will not change fuel surcharges again if oil prices do not rise, said Piyasvasti.

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