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Thai Airways International Public Company Limited ( )(SET: THAI) (abbreviated here to "Thai") is the national air carrier of Thailandmarker, operating out of Suvarnabhumi Airportmarker, and is a founding member of the Star Alliance network. It is headquartered in Bangkokmarker. Thai is a major shareholder which hold 39% shares of Nok Air - a low-cost Bangkok based carrier. The airline also operates one of the longest non-stop commercial flights, including the 18 hours non-stop flight from Bangkokmarker to Los Angelesmarker.

Skytrax awarded Thai Airways International 'Worlds Best Cabin Staff and The Best Airline in the World' in 2006, while placing second in the 'Airline of the Year' category in 2007.. Thai's first class lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport was awarded World's Best First Class Lounge by Skytrax in 2009.

Thai Airways International has received an award for the excellence of its inflight hygiene measures by the World Health Organization.


The Beginning of Thai Airways International

The airline started as Thai Airways International, a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines System or SAS which initially held a 30% share capital of 2 million Baht, along with a domestic carrier, Thai Airways Company ( ) to create an international wing for Thai Airways. SAS helped Thai in managing, marketing and operating its business.

The carrier's first flight was on 1 May 1960. Flights were operated to nine overseas Asian destinations out of Bangkok. The first intercontinental services started in 1971 to Australia, then to Europe in 1972 and North America in 1980.

End of Cooperative

On 1 April 1977, after 17 years of capital participation by SAS, the Thai government bought out the remaining 15% of SAS-owned shares and Thai became an airline fully owned by the Thai government.

One National Airline Policy

On 1 April 1988, Thai Airways Company or TAC, which was the operator of all domestic flights, and the international division, on behave of then-Prime Minister Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda to have single national carrier, merged to form the present company, Thai Airways International.

Thai Airways International's headquarters

Modern Times

On 25 June 1991, Thai listed its shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and offered them to the public. The Thai public offering of shares is the largest ever undertaken in the country.

On 14 May 1997, Thai, along with Lufthansamarker, Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines System and United Airlines, founded the world's first and now the largest airlines cooperation called "Star Alliance".

In early 2005, the arrival of the A340-500 and A340-600 coincided with a change to the airline's image, including a new livery and a revised font for the title "THAI".

On 1 May 2005, the airline began a nonstop Bangkok-New York service (TG790/791) with a new A340-500. Citing very high fuel costs, Thai discontinued the JFK service as of July 1, 2008, even though the airline had been able to fill 80% of the seats, leaving LAX as the only Thai Airways destination in the United States and North America.

Financial Trouble

After achieving profitability for the previous 40 years, Thai made a loss for the first time in 2008 at around 21 billion Baht on high fuel costs and Thailand's political situation. As of Q2 of 2009, after a series of restructuring initiative, the carrier returned to a net profit of 2.5 billion Baht.

Thai Airways has announced that it is trying to sell its fleet of four Airbus A340-500 aircraft which was used to fly between Bangkok and New York, but has not yet done so due to the world economic crisis and the weak market for an aircraft with a relatively high seat-mile-cost. The Airbus A340-500s are now being used for flights between Bangkok and Oslo. All four airliners will stay in the fleet and might be reconfiguration and deployed on other profitably routes. As of October 2009, it appears that at least one A340 is back serving the LAX route.

According to the special interview of Mr. Wallop, one of Thai's board of directors, stated that it is "Unavoidable" for the airline to resume flights to New York because A340-500s are still there. The plan is to make all planes better utilized, add more seats and move from New York JFKmarker to Newark Liberty International Airportmarker, which is a hub of new Star Alliance member, Continental Airlines..


Corporate image

Thai Airways is one of the few airline with a uniform change policy. International female flight attendants are required to change from their corporate purple suits (for use outside the cabin) into their traditional Thai dress (as seen on the company's marketing campaigns) prior to the general boarding of passengers. They are also required to change back into the former prior to disembarkation. Cabin crew of nationalities other than Thai are not allowed to wear the traditional Thai dress.


The Thai Airways International fleet consists of the following aircraft as of October 2009:
Thai Airways International Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Options Passengers
(First/Royal Silk/Premium Economy/Economy)
Airbus A300-600R 17 0 0 247 (0/46/0/201)
261 (0/28/0/233)
260 (0/28/0/232)

Airbus A330-300 15 5 4 305 (0/42/0/263)
299 (0/36/0/263)
Airbus A340-500 4 0 0 215 (0/60/42/113)
Airbus A340-600 6 0 0 267 (8/60/0/199)
Airbus A380-800 0 6 0 501
ATR 72 1 0 0 66 (0/0/0/66)
Boeing 737-400 9 0 0 150 (0/12/0/138) 3 planes leased out to Nok Air
Boeing 747-400 18 0 0 389 (14/50/0/325)
375 (10/40/0/325)
Boeing 777-200 8 0 0 309 (0/30/0/279)
Boeing 777-200ER 6 0 0 292 (0/30/0/262)
Boeing 777-300 6 0 0 364 (0/34/0/330)
Total 91 11 4

  • The average age of the Thai fleet was 11.6 years years as of October 2009.

  • Thai has ordered six Airbus A380-800 aircraft, which would initially planned to be delivered in October 2010 and June 2011 for use on services to Frankfurt, Paris and London where frequencies cannot yet be increased. Thai has now reportedly concluded negotiations with Airbus in order to postpone the first deliveries until 2012, and the remaining until 2013.

  • Airbus A300-600R will start to retire in 2008-2010, Thai will acquire eight A330-300 as replacement aircraft for delivery starting in 2009.

  • The airline has a plan to retire 47 planes, and buy 65 in 10 years, Thai plans to lease 14 Boeing 787-9, and buy 20 Airbus A321 planes.

  • Thai Airways International took the delivery of the milestone aircraft from Airbus, 1000th A330/A340 family aircraft, A330-343E (HS-TEP), as the 15th A330-300 in the fleet, and 3rd A330-300 powered by RR Trent 772B, on 30 July 2009.

Thai Hygiene Excellence

The "Most Hygienic In-cabin Environment" programme was initiated for the safety and hygiene of Thai Airways International passengers and employees. The programme includes measures such as removal of all inflight disposable materials after flight, sterilization and fumigation of all cabin equipment and facilities and inspection of air-circulation system. The programme also concerns passenger food safety. The "Special Audit Process" is also carried out for the cleaning and sanitization of the overall system of its aircraft by specified specialists. These measures are applied to the entire Thai Airways International fleet.

Thai Airways International is the first airlines to install hospital grade air-filter "True HEPA" capable of intercepting up to 99.999% of dust particles and micro organisms on every flight.

The World Health Organization awarded Thai Airways International a plaque for the implementation of the in-cabin management system in 2004. It was the first award of its kind to be presented to private organization.

Cabin Services

Thai has four travel classes: Royal First, Royal Silk, Premium Economy and Economy.

Royal First Class

Thai First Class cabin on the Boeing 747-400
The new Royal First Class was introduced with the arrival of the Airbus A340-600. It offers 8 single flat-beds seats. Thai's retrofitted 12 Boeing 747-400s are also equipped with this B/E Aerospace seat which mostly serves Europe and some intra-Asian flights. The new seats are equipped with lumbar massage and personal 10.4" touch screen with AVOD and IFE system. Passenger on Royal First class can pick from 22 different meal choices, which they can pre-order before they fly.

Royal Silk (Business) Class

The new Royal Silk Class was introduced with the arrival of Thai's Airbus A340-500 aircraft. The first series of shell, angled lie-flat business class seats were installed on 12 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, all Boeing 777-200 aircraft, and all Airbus A340 aircraft. A newer set of seats was then installed on all Boeing 777-300 aircraft, all Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, and select Airbus A330 aircraft (registrations HS-TEN and later). The pitch is 60"-62" between seats and the width is 20"-21.5". When fully reclined (electrically adjusted) the seat becomes completely flat, but angled. The seat can perform lumbar massage. All seats are equipped with a 10.4" or 15" (newer version) touch screen with AVOD and IFE.

Premium Economy Class

Thai Airways Economy Class meal
The new Premium Economy Class is only available on intercontinental flights between Bangkok and Los Angelesmarker on a Airbus A340-500 aircraft. The fare for Premium Economy Class is slightly higher than those of Economy. Premium Economy seating is configured as 2-3-2 rather than the standard 2-4-2 in Economy. Seat pitch is increased to 42", 135 degree angle of recline and the seat features a leg-rest. Premium Economy class passengers also have more choices over their meal selection. All seats of Premium Economy class are equipped with AVOD and IFE with a 9" touch screen.

On some long-haul routes such as Bangkok Copenhagenmarker, Bangkok Stockholmmarker, aircraft with previous generation Business Class seats are used; therefore the seats are sold under Premium Economy Class fare.

Economy Class

Thai Airways International offers one of the most generous pitch in the industry for its Economy class passengers. The seat pitch offers passengers up to 36" pitch in select aircraft as well as 34" on all other aircraft. Seat rows are configured in a 3-3-3 configuration in Boeing 777-200, 777-300 and 777-200ER aircraft, 2-4-2 in Airbus A340-500, A340-600, A330-300 and A300-600 aircraft, 3-4-3 in Boeing 747-400 aircraft and 3-3 in Boeing 737-400 aircraft. All Economy seats in Airbus A340-500, Airbus A340-600, Airbus A330-300 (HS-TEN, HS-TEO and HS-TEP), Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777-300 have individual Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) 9" touch screens. Thai's newer A330-300 aircraft scheduled for delivery through 2010 also include AVOD in the Economy cabins.

Royal Orchid Plus

Royal First class lounge and check-in at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Thai Airways International's Royal Orchid Plus is the airline's frequent flyer program. It has a membership of over two million members.

Earning miles

There are two types of mile which can be earned towards a Royal Orchid Plus account.

Firstly, Eligible Qualifying Miles (EQM) this type of mile is earned on:
  • Thai Airways flights
  • TG codeshare flights on routes departing from/to Bangkok (Malaysian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, El Al Israel Airlines and China Eastern Airlines)
  • Star Alliance flights
  • Jet Airways flights

Qualifying Miles (Q Miles) are the miles flown and additional class of service miles on Thai and Star Alliance airlines. Royal Orchid Plus miles are earned based on the paid class of travel.

Secondly, Partner Miles are earned from non-airline partners, such as hotels.

Status Tiers

There are three tiers in the Royal Orchid Plus program
  • Member entry-level status
  • Silver requires 10,000 Q Miles in one calendar year or 15,000 Q Miles from the date of enrolment up to 31 December of the next complete calendar year
  • Gold requires 50,000 Q Miles in one calendar year, 80,000 Q Miles from the date of enrolment up to 31 December of the next complete calendar year, or 40 international flown sectors on Thai within any 1 calendar year.

Codeshare agreements

Check-in desks in Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok

Thai Airways International codeshares with the following airlines:

Incidents and accidents

  • 31 July 1992 – Flight 311, an Airbus A310-304 hit the side of a hill 23 miles north of Kathmandu while descending towards Tribhuvan International Airportmarker from Bangkok. All 113 on board (99 passengers and 14 crew) died. The accident was caused by technical faults (with flaps and a possible second unknown fault), pilot error and lack of equipment at TIA at the time (no radar).
  • 11 December 1998 – Flight 261, an A310-200, bound for Surat Thanimarker from Bangkok, during its third landing attempt in heavy rain, crashed into a rice paddy about 2 miles from Surat Thani airport; 102 of 143 aboard were killed.
  • 3 March 2001 – Flight 114, a Boeing 737-400, bound for Chiang Maimarker from Bangkok, was destroyed by an explosion of the center wing tank resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank while the aircraft was parked, pre-boarding, on the ground. The source of the ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but the most likely source was an explosion originating at the center wing tank pump as a result of running the pump in the presence of metal shavings and a fuel/air mixture.

See also


  1. " Addresses and contact numbers." Thai Airways International. Retrieved on 21 February 2009.
  2. AIRLINES wins Airline of the Year title in the 2007 World Airline Awards which were unveiled today by Skytrax
  4. Thai Airways International Public Information
  5. Airlines Curb Long Flights to save on Fuel, Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2008, pp. B1-B2
  9. Thai Airways International Website October 2008
  10. Airfleets information for Thai Airways
  11. Thai confirms A380 delivery delayed until 2012
  12. Travel Hygiene
  15. [1], [2]
  16. Asia Economic News 14 December 1998
  17. " ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-4D7 HS-TDC Bangkok International Airport (BKK)." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 14 June 2009.

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