Thai Airways has beefed up its three Scandinavian routes to better compete with low-cost carrier Norwegian.
Historically, Scandinavia has been Thai's single most important destination in Europe. SAS (the national airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden) helped establish Thai in the 1960s and 1970s. The two carriers still enjoy a close relationship.
No other Asian carrier serves all three Scandinavian capitals and until recently Thai was using a mixture of aircraft including 20-year-old B747-400s to serve Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.
But flights to Copenhagen were upgraded on April 1 with brand new B777-300ERs. This aircraft will begin operating the Bangkok to Stockholm route on July 16.
Oslo, according to Thai’s website, will be served by a mixture of B777-200s and the new B777-300ERs.
What happened to the B747-400s? Well, they ended up on the London route after extensive refurbishment.
Other than the omission of first class, a product which is unsaleable in egalitarian Scandinavia, the B777-300ERs offer Scandinavian travellers a better product in the business or economy cabins than do the B747-400s or A340-600s which are used on the London run.
Lie-flat beds are found in business class while Thai is still old-fashioned enough to configure economy class nine across 3-3-3 at a time when most B777-300ER airlines are going ten across 3-4-3, much to the chagrin of our readers (see seatplans.com).
Norwegian has begun flying to Bangkok from both Oslo and Stockholm. But owing to B787 delivery delays, Norwegian is having to lease older A340-300s from Portuguese carrier Hi-Fly. The plan is for Norwegian to begin B787 service to Bangkok from next August.
But although Norwegian's B787s have "business class" seating configured seven across 2-3-2 its economy class will be nine across 3-3-3 which is tight seeing as the B787’s cabin is narrower than that of the B777 (see online news, November 2012).