Thai Airways International has taken delivery of the first of four A340-500s, with the aircraft also being the first in the entire fleet to be painted in the airline’s new livery. This event marks the start of a major Airbus widebody fleet expansion programme, which will also see six A340-600s entering service between 2005- 08 and six A380-800s entering service between 2008-09.
The A340-500s will allow for a completely new network of ultra long-haul services from Bangkok to North America, whilst the A340-600s will replace older aircraft currently operated to secondary cities in Europe. Thai Airways International’s A380s are destined to operate on major trunk routes from Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi airport to major destinations in Europe.Ê
All four A340-500s and six A340-600s in the Thai Airways International fleet will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines, which burn up to 20 per cent less fuel than older generation jet engines.
“The A340-500 ultra long haul aircraft will open up a completely new market for THAI. For the first time, we will be able to offer direct non-stop services between Thailand and the USA and our A340-500 will have a unique configuration giving passengers extra space and comfort on their long flights” said Kanok Abhiradee, President of Thai Airways International.
“The relationship between Thai Airways International and Airbus stretches back to the first A300 order in 1977 and I am naturally delighted to see the airline take delivery of our latest generation widebody A340-500 as the first step in its long haul Airbus fleet expansion.” said Noel Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer. “With Thailand’s strong domestic economy and booming tourism & trade, I am particularly confident of a bright future for Thai Airways International’s new Airbus fleet operating from the all new Suvarnabhumi hub airport.”