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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thai to completely refurbish fleet by 2017

As reported before on this blog, Thai Airways has announced new seating for economy, business and first classes that will appear on all new Airbus A330s and the Airbus A380s when they arrive, and will be retrofitted on existing A330s.  However, Flightglobal has reported that up to 12 of Thai's Boeing 747-400s will also be retrofitted with the new products over the next three years, with 8 Boeing 777-200s to get new in flight entertainment systems (although not apparently new seats).  However from 2012 to 2017 Boeing 777-200ERs and Airbus A340s will get new products (which is a very long period to retrofit, as well as seemingly reversing the assumption that the A340s are to be disposed of).

As I said before, the new first and business class offerings are to be welcomed, although tightening up the seat pitch in economy is a big step backwards.   However, most concerning must be the incongruity of Thai's aim to compete with the likes of Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian and Cathay, but taking 7 years to get its product up to spec across its fleet.  Thai should be aiming to have its long haul fleet converted as a priority by 2013 with medium haul by 2015.  

Its current image is of a carrier that is relatively cheap, is below the standards of the airlines it seeks to compete with, but has good in flight service.  The main disadvantage of Thai is inconsistency.  No personal in flight entertainment screens in economy class is a big disadvantage when almost all other carriers have them.   However at the premium end, passengers can't be sure to get fully flat beds in first class or even angled lie flat seats in business class.   Consistency is all, then Thai can focus on those little touches it can easily do, like service, catering and good lounges at Bangkok, to make a difference.

However, until I know what I am getting, Thai will always be a matter of "it's good if it is cheap, but if it is the same price as others..."

Meanwhile Thai has announced it is recommencing daily direct flights between Bangkok and Auckland with its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

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