The forthcoming football World Cup and increasing trade links between Asia and Africa have led Thai Airways International (THAI) to resume flights to South Africa.
The non-stop route will be revived on May 16 after it was axed in January 2009 after a little over two years in operation. Four flights a week will operate between the Thai capital and Southern Africa’s most important business city. THAI will use its 292-seater Boeing 777-200ERs.
THAI has cited the start of the 2010 World Cup June as a good opportunity to resume the service. The airline is also said to be looking at using the Johannesburg link to extend the route to Cape Town on its return leg and to seek code-share agreements with South African Airways to link up with South American routes. SAA is a fellow member of the Star Alliance and operates routes to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo.
THAI has also confirmed that it is dropping its Bangkok-Kuwait, Hong Kong-Taipei and Bangkok-Manila-Osaka routes.
The airline is also to lease 15 new planes as part of the overhaul of its fleet. THAI will lease eight long-haul and seven medium-range aircraft as part of its long-term modernisation programme that will see it add 70 new planes to its fleet over the next decade and a half. The medium-haul planes will each be able to carry 300 passengers, while the long-haul aircraft will be 350-seaters.