Thai Airways International could resume direct flights to North America – likely Seattle and Vancouver – following the arrival of its new fleet of A350-900 and B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.
The Bangkok Post reported the national carrier’s president, Charamporn Jotikasthira, as saying recently that the new long-haul aircraft would enable it to relaunch flights to to North America. But the destination focus is likely shift from major cities like Los Angeles and New York to those with a shorter flight time and less intense competition.
“We are not looking at going back to Los Angeles because it is too far… and crowded with competitors, and we never make money,” Charamporn told the newspaper. “We need to look at other cities in North America such as Seattle and Vancouver, which offer more potential if we decide to return to the continent.”
THAI will take delivery of the first of the first of its order for 12 A350-900 this year followed by the first of its four B787-9s in 2017. The airline already operates six smaller B787-8s, but the additional capacity of the B787-9 is likely to make it more suitable for North American routes.
One issue thwarting THAI’s return to the US however, is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) recent downgrading of Thailand’s safety rating. An unsatisfactory audit by International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN’s aviation body, led to Thailand being audited by the FAA and subsequently downgraded to Category 2 last year. Until the country returns to Category 1 status, THAI will be unable to launch any new routes to the US.