London and Hong Kong are set to lose Thai Airways' A380 service in favour of Tokyo and Osaka.
As we confirmed earlier this month (see online news, July 2), Thai has postponed deploying the A380 on the Bangkok to London route until the end of October 2014.
And now Thai's existing daily A380 service to Hong Kong (for a review, click here) will be "downgraded" to a B747 by the end of October this year.
Thai has ordered six A380s. It currently operates four, with the remaining A380s due to start arriving towards the end of the year.
According to thaiairways.com, the freed-up A380 capacity plus the new plane or planes will be used to upgrade services to Osaka and Tokyo.
From October 27, flights TG622 (depart Bangkok 2315, arrive Osaka 0625) and TG623 (depart Osaka 1100, arrive Bangkok 1545) will be converted to A380 service.
From December 1, Thai will use the A380 to operate two of its three daily flights into Tokyo Narita. One service is already flown by an A380 so the new A380 flights will be TG676 (depart Bangkok 0800, arrive Tokyo 1550) and TG677 (depart Tokyo 1730, arrive Bangkok 2230).
Besides being good news for Asian travellers, it is also welcome news for round-the-world travellers using the Star Alliance ticket or for Europeans, heading for Japan, who may wish to stop over in Thailand.
It is true that technical issues - the official reason given by Thai - with its existing superjumbos have prompted the carrier to delay its A380 London service. But one can't help thinking that commercial reasons also played a role.
Why? Simply put, Thai will surely find it more profitable to operate the A380 to Tokyo or Osaka.
Here are three reasons:
- The A380s achieve better utilisation, because of the shorter flight time, when flying to Japan. One A380 can easily accomplish a daily Bangkok to Tokyo service whereas two A380s are required for a daily Bangkok-London operation,
- Many passengers will be paying for their tickets in valuable Japanese Yen. The base fare (before taxes/charges/fees) for a mid-week economy return in December from Tokyo to Bangkok is almost the same price as London-Bangkok return for the same dates. Yet the latter is roughly twice the distance,
- Thai faces less competition on its Japanese routes. There are no Gulf carriers with their keener pricing to worry about.
Earlier this month, it emerged that from October 27 Thai will upgrade its third Scandinavian destination, namely Oslo, to a newish B777-300ER (from the previously scheduled B747) to better compete with budget carrier Norwegian (see online news, July 3).
Remember that all these plans revolve around aircraft availability, so bear this in mind.