DALLAS – Thai Airways (TG) Commercial Chief Officer, Korakot Chatasingha, has declared that the company is considering the potential return of two Airbus A380s in 2024. If it chooses to do so, TG will join several other operators to resurrect the type as global air travel demand increases.
At the 66th Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Assembly (AAPA) in Bangkok, Korakot stated that TG is “studying closely” the cost-effectiveness of restoring the planes. “As you know, to bring them…and return them to service, costs a lot of money,” he said.
Since the first delivery in 2012, TG has operated six A380s. The airline used them on its high-demand routes from Bangkok (BKK) to Tokyo (NRT), London (LHR), Paris (CDG), and Frankfurt (FRA).
While four are due to be returned to their lessors, two, HS-TUA and HS-TUD, are still legally owned by the company. The airframes are currently stored at BKK.
The potential return of the superjumbo comes as part of TG’s fleet restructuring plan, announced by the company CEO at the AAPA. It involves the re-entry into service of three Airbus A330s and two Boeing 777-200ERs. TG expects to add ten widebody aircraft next year and eight more in 2024.
Why Is the A380 back?
Despite being an engineering marvel, the A380 is far from cost-efficient for many airlines, and the type has subsequently found only 14 total operators throughout its lifetime. The COVID-19 crisis and sudden drop in demand was the final hit for the superjumbo, leading to it being rapidly erased from some operators’ future fleet plans.
However, while some believed there wasn’t a market for the A380 anymore, recently, not a month has passed without hearing news about another carrier returning the type into operations.
The latest, Korean Air (KE), resumed flights with the aircraft on November 10 with a rotation from Seoul (ICN) to Bangkok (BKK).
The truth is that although airlines slashed their schedules during 2020 and 2021, there’s still the same demand for flights as before, mainly between hubs, for which the A380 was designed. And, with the continuous delays with the Boeing 777X, currently, there isn’t really an aircraft that can match the unique capacity and performance of the A380.
A True Hub-and-Spoke Aircraft
For large hubs such as London-Heathrow (LHR) or Dubai (DXB), operating at their maximum capacities, the only solution for airlines to match the increasing demand is to use bigger planes.
The DXB-LHR route sees seven daily A380 flights, as demand for seats on the route is so high, while the availability of new slots at both airports is so small.
Airlines including, All Nippon Airlines (NH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), British Airways (BA), Emirates (EK), Korean Air (KE), Lufthansa (LH), Qantas (QF), Qatar Airways (QR), Singapore Airlines (SQ), and TG have all either already put the A380 back into service or announced their intentions to do so.
Of course, this is an excellent opportunity for aviation enthusiasts to take advantage and experience how it is to fly on the iconic double-decker.
Featured image: Pre-pandemic Thai had a fleet of six A380s. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways.