Thai to fly A380 twice daily to Tokyo, drops Johannesburg

19 Nov 2014 by Clement Huang

From January 16, Thai Airways International (Thai) will fly its A380 superjumbo twice a day to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. A third daily rotation is operated by the airline’s brand-new B787-8 aircraft.

The move signals Thai’s confidence in the north-east Asian market where it has been continuously adding capacity over the past six months.

Thai has been suffering from slipping load factors on most of its European routes this year. To that effect, it didn’t go ahead with opening a new route to the German city of Dusseldorf and it also never deployed the A380 on its services to London’s Heathrow, as had been previously announced.

The carrier has figured out that putting the six A380s it owns on the high-yielding services to Japan and China makes much more economical sense. This is due to the fact that passengers travelling on the six-hour Tokyo – Bangkok service pay almost the same fare as those booked on the carrier’s twelve-hour Frankfurt – Bangkok flight, currently its only A380 service to Europe.

Thai is still in financial difficulty, even though it last week posted a net profit of 1.09 billion baht ($33.2 million) helped by significant foreign exchange gains totalling 7.4 billion baht.

Meanwhile, Thai’s operating loss for the three-month period ended September 30 amounted to 5.24 billion baht, up from the 3.2 billion baht deficit it incurred in the same period last year.

The airline is in the midst of a restructuring programme that includes shedding 6,000 of its 18,000 staff by 2018.

To this end, Thai will also terminate its single, but loss-making, route to Africa. From January 15, the thrice-weekly Boeing B777-200ER service to Johannesburg will be axed, leaving the Thailand–South Africa route unserved after South African Airways also dropped out a couple of years ago.

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Dominic Sebastian Lalk

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