Denmark played an important role in the establishment of Thai Airways International

In a recent update, the Embassy of Denmark in Bangkok shares yet another historic fact about the good and strong relations between Thailand and Denmark. 

As part of their ‘Did you Know’ series, the Embassy writes:


Did you know that Denmark played an important role in the establishment of Thai Airways International? 

One of the most successful Thai-Danish corporate collaborations began in 1960, when Thai Airways Company (TAC), a local domestic carrier at the time, decided to partner with Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), in a joint venture to establish Thai Airways International.

For Thai Airways Company, it was a way to build an international airline, and for SAS, a way to expand its operations in Asia.

SAS initially provided a 30% share capital of the new company but SAS also provided operations, managerial, and marketing expertise as well as flight training – all to eventually create a fully independent Thai Airways International.

The staff from SAS was primarily Danish and was led by Niels Lumholdt in the captain’s seat. The Thai team was led by a well-known figure in Thai civil aviation, Chatrachai Bunya-Ananta, who was the public face of the company.

After 17 years of partnership, the formal relationship stopped in 1977, when the Thai government bought out the remaining SAS-owned shares.

Despite the buy-out, many Danes stayed involved in Thai Airways and the close relationship continued with THAI and SAS sharing facilities and routes around the world. The close partners even became two of the five founding members of the first global corporation in the airline industry – the Star Alliance.

The inaugural flight of SAS services to Bangkok. The first plane arrived at Don Muang Airport in November 1949
THAI and SAS airplanes next to each other was a common sight in Don Muang Airport in Bangkok

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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