Thai Airways has delayed the debut of its Airbus A350 aircraft on the Bangkok-Melbourne route until late October.
The Star Alliance member had hoped to begin A350 flights to Melbourne on September 16, but a spokesperson tells Australian Business Traveller that “additional inspections and requirements from Australian authorities" are needed before the new jet can begin flying in Australian skies.
These checks mean that "the approval process is not able to be completed in time for Thai to operate the maiden flight by September 16, 2016."
Thai is now setting its sights on late October, perhaps timed for the start of northern winter schedules.
Until then, the first A350 will run on scheduled Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket flights.
Thai Airways still intends to see both its daily Bangkok-Melbourne flights switch to an A350 in the coming months, following the delivery of a second jet in October.
PREVIOUS | Thai Airways will begin flying its new Airbus A350 between Bangkok and Melbourne this month, with a second A350 joining the route in late October.
The A350 will debut on the daily TG465/TG466 service from September 16.
The Star Alliance member takes delivery of the first of 12 of the advanced jets this week, which features 32 of the airline’s latest Royal Silk business class seats...
... which convert into lie-flat beds with direct aisle access for each passenger.
Further back are 289 economy seats.
PREVIOUS | Thai Airways plans to upgrade both of its daily Melbourne-Bangkok flights to the airline’s sleek new Airbus A350 by September.
And business travellers will be in for a treat with the quiet and comfortable new jets including not only Thai’s latest business class seats but also a ‘dine on demand’ meal service and free inflight Internet.
Thai Airways president Charamporn Jotikasthira told Australian Business Traveller that he aims for both the TG465/466 and TG461/462 flights to move to an Airbus A350 on the same day.
However, delivery of the airline’s first A350 is likely to be pushed back by one month.
“We expect to get it in July but we got a note from Airbus saying it is probably August, because they have problem with a seat manufacturer” Mr Charamporn said. “It’s not our seat manufacturer but as a result the pipeline moved, everyone’s order moved.”
Speaking to Australian Business Traveller at a meeting of Star Alliance airline CEOs in Zurich, Charamporn indicated the delay would mean that after one month of regional A350 flights from Bangkok, the simultaneous twin A350 launch on the Melbourne-Bangkok route would likely take place in September.
Thai’s Airbus A350s will sport 32 of the airline’s latest Royal Silk business class seats.
This is a lie-flat design with direct aisle access for each passenger, with the cabin dressed in ‘Thai Contemporary’ style.
Thai will also roll out its improved business class service which has already debuted on European routes, with ‘dine on demand’ meals and free inflight Internet for business class passengers.
“We believe our business class can be one of the best business class in the world, but in the past we did not package its accordingly” Charamporn noted of the program’s individual elements.
Better connections at Bangkok
Another part of the platform: arrival gates at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport would now be as close as possible to immigration. “Before the gates (seemed) a little more random but we have managed to work with airport authorities so now it has to be right near immigration.”
Thai has also adjusted its schedules to provide better connectivity at its Bangkok hub for onward flights to Europe.
A dozen “minor adjustments of timing between five minutes and 35 minutes” has opened up an additional 28 new connections.
More significantly, Thai has changed the departure of its Sydney-Bangkok flight from an evening to an afternoon timeslot.
“This hooks into the midnight hub at Bangkok, and of course we have 11 direct destinations in Europe which is a sizeable network which we can now feed” explains Bryan Banston, Thai Airways’ Vice President of Global Sales.
“So in addition to focussing on the core market, which is Thailand and the region, we can also really compete in the European market."
“We’re very keen in the Australian market to really leverage our network as best we can, and we have to have a look at Sydney and how we can grow that to double daily at some point,” Banston added.
David Flynn travelled to Zurich as a guest of Star Alliance
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