The budget proposal includes money for acquiring a successor and training the flight crew over a four-year period.
There may soon be a new airplane available for the Thai Royal Family and distinguished guests. The replacement of Thailand’s current Airbus A340-500 will cost 8.78 billion baht ($276 million), spread over four years.
The plane will be used to fly guests of the Thai government as well as members of the royal family, cabinet ministers, privy council members, and other officials.
The suggestion was put out by the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, and the Cabinet approved it on Tuesday. The money will be used for staff training as well as the purchase of new aircraft and componentry. The current aircraft’s operator, the Royal Thai Air Force, acknowledged having created an operational plan that includes a budget estimate, a corruption risk assessment, and a list of procurement requirements.
No other information regarding prospective replacement possibilities is currently available, and the aircraft is anticipated to be delivered in 2026. At Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport, the 602 Squadron/Royal Flight Wihok will fly the aircraft.
An Airbus A319, two Airbus A320s, four Boeing 737s, and three Sukhoi SSJ100-95LR Superjets are among the various VIP aircraft that the squadron is in charge of.
The current quadjet
An Airbus A340-500 with the registration HS-TYV is the present aircraft that needs to be replaced. The quadjet was first given to Thai Airways International in 2005 as HS-TLC and was given the adoring name Phitsanulok in honor of a famous city in Lower Northern Thailand.
The widebody was used by the airline until June of 2012 before being placed in storage for a while until being purchased by the Royal Thai Air Force in 2016.
The jet is utilized for official government work, humanitarian missions, repatriation trips, and VIP travel. The Airbus recently made headlines for possibly the longest flight of its kind. The November trip traveled 7,859 nautical miles, taking off from Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok and landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport after a journey that lasted 18 hours and 14 minutes.
The new aircraft proposal said that since Airbus stopped producing the type in 2012, maintenance expenses for the aircraft have been rising substantially. The aircraft, one of the last of its class to be in use, is allegedly due for its next airworthiness evaluation in 2026.
On two occasions last week, the plane was seen traveling the roughly one-hour route between Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport and Chiang Mai.
History of the A340-500 in Thailand
In the early 2000s, Thai International Airways was one of the major Airbus A340 carriers. Ten of the type were used by the airline, with half being the A340-500 model. The plane served the airline for almost ten years and had the longest range of any airliner in the world when it was first introduced.
Additionally, a number of the lengthier Airbus A340-600s that were retired in 2015 were used by Thai Airways.
Five of the Airbus widebodies were able to be sold by the airline last year. The sale of one Airbus A340-500 and four A340-600 aircraft to an unnamed buyer brought in 350 million baht ($9.6 million) for the airline.
In 2016, the Airbus that was supplied to the Royal Thai Air Force cost 1.75 billion baht ($48 million). The airline has announced it will lease two Airbus A350s and is now focusing on more fuel-efficient aircraft. The first of the two planes, which was recently seen in full Thai Airways livery, is soon to enter service.