Thai Airways stated it has commenced talks with Airbus on the possibility of acquiring up to 30 A350XWB aircraft and six additional A380s, to replace ageing A340, B777-200ERs and B777-300ERs used on long-haul sectors (Bangkok Post, 16-Aug-2010). The aircraft would cost USD9.12 billion at list prices. According to a draft plan presented to THAI's Board, the airline expects to have a fleet of 102 aircraft by 2026 with an average age of 7.5 years. The carrier operates a 88 aircraft fleet with an average age of 11.5 years. Airbus Southeast Asia Sales Director, Jean-Jacques Boissin, stated the earliest the manufacturer could delivery the first A350 to Thai Airways would be 2017.
Thai Aiways commences talks with Airbus for more A380s and A350s
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Southeast Asia-US airline market Part 2: at least 7 airlines to offer US nonstop services by 2021
The deployment of new generation ultra-long-range widebody aircraft is prompting several airlines to plan new nonstop services between Southeast Asia and the continental US. New variants of the A350 have particularly emerged as a new, more efficient and popular option for Southeast Asia-US flights, with orders over the past year from three Southeast Asian flag carriers.
On 5-Sep-2016 Vietnam Airlines became the latest Southeast Asian airline to commit to new generation ultra-long-range aircraft capable of new nonstop routes – joining Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Garuda Indonesia and Thai Airways are likely to follow, resulting in four Southeast Asian airlines operating nonstop flights to the US by early next decade, compared with only one currently.
Delta Air Lines may also join United Airlines with nonstop Southeast Asia-US services. There are opportunities in the Southeast Asia-US market for nonstop routes, but competition with one-stop products will be intense. Profitability will be heavily challenged or non-existent. SIA started the trend due to strategic, not financial, imperatives. Under the charm of low fuel prices, Southeast Asian airlines risk falling into the spell of "me too" nonstop flights, just as they did with over-sized aircraft acquisitions.
China is not the only game in town: Asia’s other aviation growth markets
China captures headlines and imaginations in terms of market growth potential, and rightly so - it will generate 100 million tourists annually by the end of this decade. But there are other markets in Southeast Asia that show high potential and remarkable promise for future growth opportunities.
The large aircraft order book hovering over the region has attracted significant attention from the global industry in recent years. Much of this is directed at short haul markets, as new LCCs expand and regional commerce develops. While the rate of growth has been slowing, the order book suggests at some point the rate of LCC growth in Southeast Asia will re-accelerate. Southeast Asian LCCs currently have over 1,100 orders, including almost 90 widebody aircraft. LCCs currently account for about 75% of orders among Southeast Asian airlines but only about 33% of the active fleet. Even when factoring in replacements the size of the LCC fleet should more than double over the next decade.
Three Southeast Asian markets recorded double-digit passenger growth in 2015 – Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia – while another three experienced high single-digit growth – the Philippines, Laos and Myanmar. Indonesia and Malaysia have struggled recently but should see faster growth rates again in the medium to long term. Indonesia, with its 200 million population, is perhaps the quiet medium term performer. Thailand and Vietnam, for now, remain the hottest markets in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is also intriguing, but much smaller.