According to news source Reuters, the Thai national carrier Thai Airways may be in the advanced stages of closing a historic 80-strong deal for the wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft.
It is not known which variant of the Boeing 787 THAI is considering. The carrier currently operates a fleet of two Boeing 787-9 jets and six Boeing 787-8 jets.
Airbus Being Sidelined?
The recent headlines by several media outlets including Reuters took many by surprise as to the extent THAI is banking on Boeing widebody jets, given that there are no Airbus A350 jets in this tranche.
Late in September, the Thai flag carrier reported that it was closing on a widebody deal which many believed to be a composition of both the 787 and the A350. This nevertheless created a heated competition between Boeing and Airbus.
Moreover, according to Reuters, the airline also reported having ordered 12 Airbus A321neos which are to be delivered from 2025 and onwards.
Bangkok Post reported in November that THAI is unhappy with British engine manufacturer Rolls Royce, whose engines are used to power their fleet of 15 Airbus A350 aircraft.
THAI’s CEO Chai Eamsiri called out Rolls Royce on its tough stance on pricing and revealed the Thai flag carrier believed that the fierce pricing is not justified.
Before the pandemic, Thai Airways grounded their 787s on occasions due to issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine. However, customers buying the Boeing 787 can opt for either the Rolls Royce or General Electric powertrains.
A350 customers on the other hand have no other engine options but the Rolls Royce. To say that Airbus is being entirely sidelined is not true in this case, but for THAI’s inability to select an engine option for future A350 engines.
Should THAI pull off this massive order, this will be one of Southeast Asia’s largest orders for the widebody Boeing aircraft.
As of this moment, Boeing and THAI have declined to comment on any ongoing deals, including this historical deal.
80 Widebody Dreamliner jets seem to be an eye-water deal for Boeing. THAI’s current fleet holds at 65, compared to over 120+ before the pandemic.
Of course, should this deal eventually pull through, it would take at least a decade or so to fulfill all 80 aircraft for THAI.
THAI operates 15 A350 and is expecting 9 more units to be delivered throughout next year (2024). The airline also operates 17 Boeing 777-300ER 2 Boeing 787-9 and 6 Boeing 787-8.
The airline has temporarily re-activated its older fleet which was presumed to be retired during COVID-19, which is the 3 A330s where the airline is currently flying and 5 Boeing 777-200ERs. These widebodies are set to be replaced with newer 777s, 787s, and A350s when new units are sourced.
One also has to take into account that THAI also retired, all of their A380s, 747s, most of their A330s, and all Boeing 777-200/300s, which shaved away many wide-body capacities.
With the growing trend in aviation, 80 Boeing Dreamliners may be an appropriate fit for the airline given that THAI has shaved many of their pre-COVID capacities and forecasting the growth of aviation long-term.
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