Two A350s are being leased by Thai Airways to increase its fleet size. The first of these was just now discovered.
Thai Airways reportedly inked a lease arrangement for two Airbus A350-900s by the end of October 2022, according to the Bangkok Post.
These would go into operation in January 2023. Even though February is quickly approaching, it does seem that efforts are being made to add two A350s to the Thai Airways fleet after one was recently sighted. Here is what we now understand:
One of the two jets saw
At Airbus’ Toulouse facilities on January 23, a Thai Airways-branded Airbus A350-900 was sighted. The aircraft was in its complete Thai Airways color scheme with its engines installed, according to AIB Family Flights, and was registered as OE-IBP (MSN 351).
Following tracking reveals that the aircraft was transferred from Toulouse to Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport on January 27. This relocation was probably made to allow for more pre-delivery work before a lengthy journey to Bangkok. On June 27, 2022, a letter of intent for the purchase of two further A350s was signed.
The idea did, however, need approval from the Ministry of Transportation and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, which happened in October. The additional two aircraft will bring Thai Airways’ A350-900 fleet total up to 14, up from the current 12 airframes. Dedicated to Hainan Airlines
This first airplane isn’t precisely old, but neither has it truly been used for commercial passenger travel. The jet is currently around three and a half years old, having completed its first test flight in August 2019.
MSN 351 is owned by Park Aerospace Holdings and is operated by aircraft lessor Avolon. According to data from ch-aviation.com, its market value is estimated to be $110,170,000. The aircraft’s flight hours and cycles are not listed in the ch-aviation statistics.
However, given that the A350 has only performed a limited number of test flights and other services for maintenance and fitting, these numbers should be modest. It seems that the initial intent of this airframe was for Hainan Airlines, a Chinese airline.
The plane is indeed documented as having been “delivered on contract” to the airline on December 30, 2019. However, the pandemic probably had something to do with Hainan Airlines’ unwillingness to fly the plane, which is why it has spent the last three years at different French airports.
According to ch-obsolete aviation’s records, this aircraft may have been originally assigned to ITA Airways. The reporting of this airframe in Thai Airways livery by AIB Family Flights, however, blatantly implies a change in course. Capacity must be (effective)
Thai Airways has a number of Airbus A380s in its fleet, but it appears the airline would rather lease more modern and effective twinjets than keep these quadjets in storage.
The Thai flag carrier, which must feel like a devastating betrayal to A380 enthusiasts, is still recovering financially and must maintain low operating costs while expanding its capacity to fulfill the demand of a rapidly recovering aviation sector. Regrettably, it seems that the A380 simply cannot satisfy the airline’s efficiency and operating-cost standards.