BANGKOK – Thai Airways International has announced the sale of five Airbus A340s for 350 million baht, idle for more than 13 years.
Thailand’s chief technical officer, Chirdvan Chotikhon, told the press that the airline sold an A340-500 and four A340-600 to a buyer for 350 million baht. He also confirmed that the buyer had already signed a contract to purchase the aircraft.
Khun Chirdvan said the five planes are being sold at more than their appraised value. Thai Airways is awaiting the transport minister’s approval to transfer ownership of the five planes to the buyer.
According to Khun Chirdvan, Thailand still has four retired A340-series aircraft and is now negotiating with potential buyers.
The sale of five Airbus A340s is the latest sale of an aircraft that has been decommissioned after the kingdom’s national carrier embarked on a refurbishment programme.
Thailand previously sold one Boeing 737-400 and 10 Boeing 747-400, raising 2 billion baht.
Khun Chirdvan has admitted the difficulty of selling retired A340s. According to Khun Cherdphan, the Thai has been looking for a buyer for years.
He attributed the current successful sale to the rehabilitation program.
“After we entered the rehabilitation program, we were able to disclose all information about the aircraft and are now open and transparent to potential buyers,” explained Khun Chirdvan.
He went on to say that THAI announced the sale online at www.thaiaircrafttrading.com and sent emails to over 500 potential buyers.
In the past, we were bound by the rules of the state-owned company which gave us almost no chance of selling the retired plane. As a result, Thai Airways has had to shoulder the cost burden of retired aircraft for years.”
Cabinet gave the green light to reorganize the financially struggling THAI under the bankruptcy law in May 2020, while the airline’s application for protection was approved by a court in June last year.
THAI has filed for bankruptcy protection after reporting a total debt of 245 billion baht at the end of 2019. The restructuring program sees the airline slash its 30,000 employees in half and cut costs to 53 billion baht this year.
THAI purchased ten A340s in 2003, during the first term of the Thaksin Shinawatra government, when Thanong Bidaya was president of THAI.
At the time, THAI had a plan to purchase 39 aircraft between 2002 and 2004 with a budget of more than 200 billion baht.
The A340 series was used for direct flights from Bangkok to New York and from Bangkok to Los Angeles. However, the two lines resulted in cumulative losses of 7 billion baht in three years of operation, so the two lines were closed in 2008.
After 10 A340s were retired, the Royal Thai Air Force purchased one A340-500, leaving another nine parked unused at U-Tapao Airport in Rayong Province.
Khun Chirdvan said Thailand plans to sell another 14 aircraft – six Boeing 777-300s, six Boeing 777-200s and two Airbus A380s.
“We are confident we can sell it all. We now know where to find buyers and our selling method is transparent and we have experience on how to do it,” says Khun Chirdvan. He added that Thailand plans to lease two Airbus A350-900s to expand flights in the first quarter of next year as passenger traffic is expected to increase.
Chirdvan said Thai Airways also plans to bring back five retired aircraft — two Boeing 777-200ERs and three Airbus A330-300s — into service in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Khun Chirdvan.
As of June 21, 2022, Thai Airways has a fleet of 61 aircraft, of which 20 are Airbus A320-200s in use by subsidiary Thai Smile, leaving the national carrier with 41 aircraft still in service, including 12 Airbus A350- 900, four Boeing 777-200ER, 17 Boeing 777-300ER and eight Boeing 787.
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