Thai Airways to Sell A380 Fleet

DALLAS — Southeast Asian carrier Thai Airways (TG) has announced the sale of its entire Airbus A380 fleet through a public auction to take place on September 12, 2023, if any buyer shows interest.

The airline operated a consolidated fleet of six A380-800 units for nearly eight years, starting in 2012, until its retirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Currently, none of the planes have been used commercially and are all stored in Thailand.

TG initially requested a bid as low as US$50,000 per plane, which is significantly lower than the list price of around US$450 million that Airbus last provided in 2018. However, all six units have accumulated at least 3,500 cycles, with the oldest plane, HS-TUA, having completed a total of 32,880 flight hours.

This news destroys any faith left in seeing Thai Airways returning the “Superjumbo” back to regular service. At the 66th AAPA in Bangkok, the CCO of Thai stated that they were considering the return of two airframes in 2024, as demand was clearly recovering in the long-haul market. However, with the sale of the A380 fleet, the airplane has finalized its journey with the Asian airline.

HS-TUF, one of the six Thai A380s, during a long layover at London Heathrow Airport. Photo: John Taggart (Wikimedia Commons).

Where Did Thai Fly the A380?

Bangkok has long been recognized as the capital city with the highest number of international visitors. The high demand for air travel to and from Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) led TG to acquire and deploy the double-decker Airbus A380 on its busiest routes to Europe and Asia.

The Thai Airbus A380 was configured with three classes: 12 First Class suites, 60 Business Class seats, and a spacious Economy Class cabin with 435 seats. This allowed the superjumbo to accommodate a total of 507 passengers on each flight.

The aircraft was frequently seen at major European hubs such as Frankfurt-Main (FRA), London-Heathrow (LHR), and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG). Additionally, Asian travelers also had the opportunity to experience the A380 on routes to Tokyo-Narita (NRT), and occasionally to Osaka (KIX) and Nagoya (NGO).

Interestingly, the airline operated the A380 on one of the shortest routes for this aircraft in the world, flying from Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG), covering a distance of less than 1,000 nautical miles. This route is comparable to a typical flight from New York (JFK) to Miami (MIA).

Los Angeles Airport was the airport that saw most A380 operators simultaneously operating until the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Eric Salard (Wikimedia Commons).

Remaining A380 Operators in the World

Out of the 15 operators that have had the privilege of operating the largest passenger aircraft in the world, only 10 have chosen to continue flying the A380 despite the severe economic crisis that has impacted the commercial aviation industry.

At the moment of writing, you can fly on the Superjumbo with All Nippon Airways (NH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), British Airways (BA), Emirates (EK), Etihad (EY), Korean Air (KE), Lufthansa (LH), Qantas (QF), Qatar Airways (QR), and Singapore Airlines (SQ). 141 of the 254 A380s ever built still fly with these airlines.

Global Airlines, a newly established carrier, is currently in the process of obtaining certification. The future airline expects to begin operations in spring 2024, exclusively utilizing the Airbus A380 for routes connecting London to New York and Los Angeles.

Featured image: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways

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