Thai Airways makes headlines again as their ageing fleet is in need of overhaul and the carrier apparently not just plans to lease aircraft but the respective cabin crew to operate it as well.
Thai Airways is currently in a rollercoaster when it comes to the future of the company as well as the renewal of it’s fleet. In recent months there were warning sign from senior executives commenting publicly about the bad state of the companies finances and overall ability to survive in the long term.
The airline had previously planned to purchase new planes in order to phase out the oldest aircraft in their fleet of which there are many.
Per the news in November/December of 2019 that plan has been put on hold but now the Bangkok Post is reporting about yet a new proposal that could see both new planes and cabin crew as part of a leasing deal.
Thai Airways International (THAI) may lease aircraft along with cabin staff as part of fleet and service improvement options, according to Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
The national carrier plans to procure 38 planes with its budget of 156 billion baht. However, it remains unclear whether the aircraft will be bought or leased.
On Wednesday, Mr Saksayam mulled the options of either leasing the planes with outsourced cabin attendants or leasing only the aircraft. He said he has instructed THAI to study the pros and cons of both options in line with the budget plan and flight routes.
The minister said he wanted the procurement issue finalised within this year.
He downplayed concerns that government regulations may not permit leasing aircraft with outsourced cabin staff. Regulations could be amended to remove obstacles, said Mr Saksayam, who also chairs the Civil Aviation Commission. …
In light of Mr Saksayam’s directive, the plan will be updated to include a three-way comparison between aircraft purchase, aircraft leasing with outsourced cabin crew, and leasing without cabin staff. …
17 of the 82 aircraft in THAI’s fleet are due to be decommissioned starting next year.
Not only is the oursourcing of cabin crew illegal under current labor law in Thailand but having a mixed crew would automatically lead to having a class system within the company that is absolutely detrimental to providing good service.
You can already see this in companies such as British Airways where they have a legacy crew and the “cheaper” Mixed Fleet crews that are paid much worse and at least in my opinion it shows in the service.
While it’s common practice nowadays that new hires will no longer receive the lucrative contracts as cabin crew received in past decades, using totally external staff that is just wearing the Thai Airways uniform will without any doubt cause friction.
Thai Airways needs a solution for their aircraft fleet and they need it fast. They have a whole lot of old planes that might be fine for regional use but definitely not for any longer routes. Right now you see TG flying their old 747’s to Bali and sometimes Singapore and Seoul as well as Phuket. While the cabin looks fine it’s hard to judge how the technical condition is. Planes can fly a very long time with proper maintenance.
As far as the crew matter is concerned, in other countries the unions would be up in arms against such a proposal. As far as I know though there isn’t any union in Thailand that represents any group of TG employees. I don’t think it’s a good idea to use leasing crew for the reasons mentioned. Nothing destroys good service more than having internal conflict between staff, especially a class battle.