Thai expected to drop Bangkok-New York route

3 Jun 2008 by Mark Caswell

Thai Airways has stopped taking bookings for its ultra non-stop Bangkok-New York JFK service, for flights departing on or after July 1.

The airline has not as yet made any official announcement as to why this flagship route could be scrapped but soaring fuel costs are expected to be the reason.

This service provides a useful and fast way for globetrotting executives to link a visit to SE Asia with one to New York.

Flight time in either direction is roughly 17 hrs 30 mins but the service using Airbus’ four-engined A340-500s isn’t especially fuel-efficient. That’s because, as one airline executive puts it, “[with ultra long-haul flights] airlines have to burn fuel just to carry fuel.”

It’s a similar problem faced by rival carrier SIA who also flies non-stop to the US with similar craft from its base at nearby Singapore.

But SIA is hoping to offset the fuel costs by converting its A340-500s to a more lucrative all-business class layout. SIA’s first A340-500 flights have already begun to operate in the new configuration.

By contrast Thai’s A340-500s operate in a three class layout (60 business, 42 premium economy and 113 economy seats). It’s believed the carrier has no plans to follow SIA and go all-business class.

Thai is continuing to accept bookings for its non-stop Bangkok-Los Angeles flights into the summer. So it’s likely that passengers previously booked Bangkok-New York will be rerouted via LA using alliance member United for the US transcontinental leg. But this routing will involve hours of extra travel time (Bangkok-LA alone takes 16 hrs 5 mins) along with the inconvenience of changing planes.

Thai was unavailable for comment.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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