Thai regional Bangkok Airways on the hunt for ageing A319 replacement

A Bangkok Airways Airbus A319 approaches to land.
Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Thailand’s award-winning regional airline, Bangkok Airways continues its ‘hunt’ for a new narrowbody aircraft to augment its A320 family as the Kingdom’s air travel rebounds faster than expected at record speed. After three years of pause, the airline’s search is set to go full steam ahead. 

Replacing the old A319

Bangkok Airways’ old fleet of Airbus A319s and A320s is showing its age as the airline succumbs to serviceability issues, due to lack of spare parts and inefficiencies. Therefore, the airline announced that a replacement will be made by at the latest 2024, stated Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth Bangkok Airways Chief Executive

The Chief Executive Officer further commented at the much anticipated commercial aviation event, the Association of Asia Pacific Airline’s 66th Assembly of Presidents in Bangkok, saying: “Replacement plans are still there, but during the pandemic, everything ceased.” 

“But now we have to consider what we are going do with our new fleet. Within the next year or the year after we may have to do something to replace the A319.”

Bangkok Airway’s top man stated that the Thai regional airline has 37 aircraft, and is divided between the larger A320 family and ATRs. Four machines are likely to retire at the end of this year as their leases expire without any prospect to renew.

This is a sad sight as the airline fronted 40 aircraft before the pandemic, but one would hope that the airline exits the pandemic, stronger and leaner than ever. 

A known fleet database suggests that the airline has approximately 13 serviceable A320 family jets, with eight currently in storage. The average age of the Bangkok Airways A320 family stands at 16.1 years old, while the smaller aircraft, the 13 A319s stood at a slightly younger 15.6 years. 

The Right Strategy 

The airline’s chief also stated that it wasn’t only the surge in air traffic across the Asia Pacific that contributed to the growth and cash flow of the airline, but also the return of codeshare traffic with other airlines. This has included the recent one with Qantas, for instance.

The airline benefits from shuttling international passengers to and from its hub in Bangkok and providing a seamless onward journey to Koh Samui and other destinations, such as Phuket and Chiang Mai. 

Last year was the year that the airline focused its market base domestically, where it launched Bangko-Hat Yai and Koh Samui-Hat Yai services. 

Better Cash Flow

Before the end of the quarter to 30th September, the regional carrier witnessed a massive swing of Bt75 million ($2.1 million) in operating profit on sharply higher revenues. This is its first-ever operating profit since the pandemic. Losses also narrowed to Bt393 million, compared with a net loss of Bt7 billion in 2021 during the same period. Unsurprisingly, the carrier recorded quarterly laid factors from 41.8% to 77.2%/ 

The A220: The Koh Samui Factor 

Bangkok Airways fanfare may prospect the A220 as the next successor to the A319 due to its sleek and efficient design. The next best option is the A319NEO, which also complements denser routes and capacity out of Bangkok and Koh Samui at the same time. It is likely that the airline will sway to the A220 due to its unrivalled economics.

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