Thai delays Airbus A350 on Melbourne-Bangkok to "late October"

By David Flynn, September 12 2016
Thai delays Airbus A350 on Melbourne-Bangkok to

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

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

The seats are very sexy. A fantastic styling job.

I presume Thai will keep all their other seats Economy class, although given Bangkok is mostly a leisure/low-yielding market I'd have thought it would make sense for Thai to phase out First Class and instead move to a "really good business/economy-plus-but-not-quite-premium-economy/economy" model.

Either way, I hope Thai successfully renew their fleet and upgrade their service. Unfortunately, like a lot of south-east Asian airlines, they're ran as a kind of 'national prestige' thing, which is frankly not a very good business model. Maybe they'll realize that soon.


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1449

“ran as a kind of 'national prestige' thing, which is frankly not a very good business model. Maybe they'll realize that soon.”


Yeah, Qantas realized that few decades back. And immediately been knocked off from being greatest airline for decades by companies that not realize it as yet.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

14 Feb 2014

Total posts 32

well said serg well said

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"...ran as a kind of national prestige thing...not a very good business model."

Agree about the national prestige mentality @ TG but it's getting better in recent yrs ever since TG started bleeding heavily in red financially circa 2011-12.   Howeverf, its mgmt issues, unique to TG but largely absent fm its Asian peers, are much deeper+more chronic than the typical national prestige thing and most importantly, remain unresolved.  Fm the customer/public perspective, TG has no consistency in strategy/plan for every major thing it does for's messy.  This is a direct result of constant change in top leadership...just count how many CEOs/Presidents TG had for the past 10yrs to get a clue.  Worst of all, nearly every 1 of those CEOs largely erase the strategy/plan of his predecessor and then embark on a new direction....a long-term strategic plan @ TG usually last less than 18mths well before it's completed.  To be fair, TG is 100% gov't owned so when Thai political stability itself has been in turmoil(Theoretically a democracy, Thailand has ceased to be a democracy in practice for 2-3yrs now) for so many yrs, TG leadership instability is just a function of what's  happening to the Thai gov't overall.  It's mission impossible for TG to achieve consistent leadership before Thailand itself achieve the same.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 217

A great business class product; direct aisle access, and the colours and materials are quite nice.

My one criticism:

The seat's recline-position necessitates a cavity for accomodating outstretched legs/feet, at an unusually high position... This forces the sidetable to be upper-arm height for the passenger in front (which in turn diminishes the usability of that flat table surface).

Qantas (and others) mitigate that problem by having the seat lower itself down closer to the floor when entering the recline position; the "foot well" is below any point that would affect the passenger in front.

Just seems like a weird oversight.

On an unrelated note: what are the red plastic tabs hanging from the ceiling in the first interior photo on this article?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Apr 2014

Total posts 45

Re: The red things. If I had to guess, I would say its a visual indicator that the oxygen masks aren't yet fitted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1272

Funny how no one in their PR department noticed those before releasing the images

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

I know Sydneysiders will hate this, but it feels very good to get something before Sydney!!! It's about time!

Please don't correct me if TG also plans to send an A350 or A380 to Sydney.

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 37

About 3 weeks ago I flew into Sydney from Europe TG First and the crew apologised for the aircraft (the old 747 First) saying the aircraft will be replaced soon, so there must be something planned for Sydney. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 83

And remove them in November, just in time for the Xmas traveller. Amazing Thailand

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 266

Well that's a big upgrade from their previous Business seats! Looking nice, depsite it being media shots of course.

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

I've found Thai quite hit and miss with their Aircraft out of Melbourne, I looked the other day and there was even an A340 listed on some dates.

So it will be good to get A350 as standard 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

16 May 2011

Total posts 117

MEL pax gets the privilege to play the TG lottery every time they fly!

On a more serious note, it's great to see TG offering consistency to MEL, it's great we get to see the A350's rather than those 787's with much smaller seats and no direct aisle access in J.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"MEL pax gets the privilege to play the TG lottery every time they fly"

There's a reason why TG fare is consistently among the lowest on any given TG route....and it has little to do with lower labor cost.

The TG house has not been running even in just basic proper order for a long time(Unfortunately, infrequent travellers going on bargain Thailand vacation once every few yrs wouldn't be aware) and pax pay the price accordingly.

Don't get me wrong, TG is great in some other customer-facing aspects(e.g. typically very good cabin crew attitude+inflight services).  Just don't expect hard product consistency fm TG(Even AirAsiaX is more reliable+consistent) or U'll be disappointed.

Thai don't have A340's (well they do but they don't fly them on RPT) so not sure where you read that. They have actually been very consistently using the 777-200ER except for a very short period when they put the 777-300ER (with the same business seats as the A350). So I would say they are very consistent in their aircraft rostering to Melbourne, even though it isn't their best product. Will be great to have the A350's!

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 273

I saw it on Webjet for flights in Sept this year 

I wouldn't trust webjet. Thai's own website has the A350 loaded in the schedule for then.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"..found Thai quite hit and miss with their Aircraft out of Melbourne."

Don't worry, BKK-MEL is far fm being the only TG route with such issue.  It's a system-wide tradition thing re TG.

As I hv commented earlier, inconsistency is nearly a historic trademark of TG mgmt which obviously includes fleet strategy+deployment.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 May 2015

Total posts 8

This will be a welcomed upgrade from the 772! At least we will have a set product with the new C class unlike the gamble in which you may get the 772 or 773-ER!


13 Jun 2015

Total posts 143

Great news for Melbourne Travelers. This product onboard the a350 is much better than the B777s. 

Exactly the same product on board Thai's 777-300ER's which service their European routes. But you are right it is a much better product than their 777-200ER's currently used in to Melbourne.

04 May 2016

Total posts 34

"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.”

Seriously ? Much ado about nothing. How about not having the planes park a mile from the terminal in BKK so pax have to bus to the terminal ? That happens a lot with TG. A disgrace for a national carrier at their home airport. Rarely happens with QF/BA/SQ/EK at BKK.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"How about not having the planes park a mile from the terminal in BKK so pax have to bus to the terminal ?"

I've noticed similar about TG @ BKK(And apparently, not for other foreign carriers @ BKK).  Last few times I flown TG into/out of BKK, a bus ride to/fm the aircraft happened more often than not.  My aircraft wasn't even parked @ a remote gate but directly in front of the terminal with boarding bridges connected.  It just that the location was quite a distance fm my bus gates.

I suspect this has partly to do with TG fleet rotation between Int'l and domestic flights...often back-to-back.  e.g. TG doesn't hv enough time to physically tow its aircraft fm domestic to int'l gate area and for obvious reason, int'l pax can't enter domestic gate area for boarding inside the terminal.  So TG takes pax by bus to the aircraft instead.

@ other times, it's just classic last minute aircraft /gate change...quicker to bus pax already @ the wrong gate than herd them thru the terminal /concourses to another gate where boarding should be occurring.  Just another reflection of the confusing pax handling style of TG and the lack of fleet resources @ TG these days....I mean what else can we expect fm a carrier which dare to retire(but unsold) 10 nearly brand new 345/346(Over 3,000seats off the TG system yet still paying for their capital cost) prematurely in the name of cost-cutting?

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

On one hand I agree, it is disgraceful that they decide to bus you for what I reckon are econimical reasons (there are always airbridges avail), however the bus drops you at immigration and is quicker than the walk from C10 9 8 7 6 5 or whatever, even more so if you use the priority lane. No sweat


03 Jul 2015

Total posts 17

Does TG still fly those old A300-600 around Asia?


Something out of TAA days.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

Fortunately, the last 306 left TG active fleet 2yrs ago.  They were truly relics fm a diff era of commercial aviation with retirement(Or @ least a rebuilt) long overdue.

I was flying in 1 of them a few yrs ago and recall its cabin condition was a joke.  With seat cushion separated fm seat frame, torn/worn seat fabrics, metal seatbelt attachments to the seat frame coming loose, 1 broken arm of the seatback tray table, originally white/creamy colour cabin wall panels became yellowish, etc., there was no sign showing TG has ever done  any basic refresh /re-carpeting of that cabin since original delivery fm Toulouse.

31 Aug 2016

Total posts 1

Does anyone know whether this will be a permanent change or a temporary one? On Thai's website it shows the aircarft as being reverted back to a 777-200/3000 by November.

The A350 is the ideal aircraft for the overnight flight from Melb-Bkk where the fully flat seats will definiutely be utilized and much appreciated. I personally love flying with Thai but I do agree that their regular 777-200's are definitely showing their age. 

aw101. Yes it is meant to be a permanent change. Over on FlyerTalk there has been an indication that the GDS for the winter schedule (Oct-Mar) will be updated shortly, Thai are notoriously slow at doing this.

As an aside, the first TG A350 delivery is scheduled to land in BKK in approximately 10 minutes time. Registration HS-THB. With the next aircraft to follow in approximately a months time. First BKK-MEL flight is meant to be around the 15th of Sept I think.

GDS has now been updated.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 84

Any update on when the A350 will arrive on the MEL route? I am booked for next mth and still showing 777

02 Feb 2016

Total posts 5

Anybody have an update on this?

17 May 2012

Total posts 81

I flew back from Bombay on TG417 to BKK and then TG471 to Sydney last week. Same OLD 747 400 for both sectors. Honestly, I love Thai, they treat me very well and I still travel consistently (Gold) with them but we really deserve better than the oldest 747's in the fleet on the Sydney run. Some are upgraded but it's hit and miss as to what product you get.. Entertainment system is the old projector type cloudy seat back screens driven by Windows 98. Had to be rebooted several times in the journey. The IES control box under most aisle seats blocking your legs from fully stretching and front row exit economy has a huge bulge of the Remote extending 2 inches into the seat space making it uncomfortable. Old, old old. When is the end in sight like Melb/Bris/Perth. A380/787/A350 ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 May 2015

Total posts 13

Checked thai airway website a few weeks ago. it seems they will start fly A350 to Mel in March 2017. So i have booked their J class to Mel in April 2017. Today I checked their website it become 777 again. NO ETA when thai airway will fly A350 to Mel?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 138

Expert Flyer seat map has just updated for flights MEL-BKK in December 2017. 

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