THAI Airways Grounds More Aircraft, Lays Off 395 pilots As Part Of Reorganization Plan

Thai Airways has announced that they intend to lay off to 395 pilots – a third of it’s workforce – and get rid of more aircraft than originally anticipated as part of their reorganization efforts.

The aircraft currently due for being grounded are models Airbus A-330-300, Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 although it hasn’t been made clear if this is temporary or permanent.

Plenty of these aircraft have already been listed as for sale as recently as December when I first wrote about Thai Airways efforts to offload some of their flying assets (likely without much success forthcoming).

Now The Nation reports that THAI is planning to lay off a large number of their pilots and implement a hiring freeze for the next 2 years.

Thai Airways (THAI) has decided to ground three kind of aircraft in its fleet, namely Airbus A-330-300, Airbus 380 and Boeing 747, as part of its rehabilitation plan.

The national carrier explained that this decision was made based on the current and expected situation of the airline industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The airline also plans to bring the number of pilots in its workforce down to 905, and to achieve this it is considering laying off 395 pilots. Thai Airways said it does not plan to hire more pilots between 2021 and 2022.

The airline has also called on aircraft lessors, engine manufacturers and service companies to reduce their charges.

Of course with close to zero flight activity aside from some repatriation flights for close to a year there is very little need for pilots to stay on Thai Airways payroll, especially as they require continued training (mostly simulator based) in order to stay current.

Most of the costs Thai Airways is now complaining about are mostly self inflicted by keeping a highly diverse fleet of pretty any aircraft in existence. To upkeep all these with expensive maintenance programs instead of streamlining and only purchasing aircraft that allows for a cheaper maintenance was one element of TG’s downfall.

Remember this airline has been incurring losses for a long time and Covid was just the final straw that snapped the carriers neck.

The latest official updates about the reorganization has been published on Thai Airways website in late January and there was nothing about the sale or permanent grounding of the aircraft in these news.

The question that remains is how many of these A-330-300, Airbus 380 and Boeing 747 are really going to put away permanently. The 747’s are going away for sure. It would be a shame if Thai decides to get rid of all A380s but I can’t see TG discontinuing their First Class for reasons of VIP catering and ego.

Thai Airways has listed the following plane types for sale:

It’s absolutely staggering to consider that TG currently 43 planes for sale. Some of these planes however have been sitting for years.

You can compare this to Thai Airways current fleet through their fleet information website.

Over the years THAI has shifted the focus of their fleet a lot. While in the past the B747 was the workhorse of their operations this has mostly been changed to the B777.

Twelve Airbus A350 and eight B787 Dreamliners have brought a breath of fresh air into the THAI fleet and as mentioned before the carrier has three new B777-300 ER on order, at least one of which is in it’s final production cycle.

Conclusion

With no signs of the pandemic slowing down or Thailand reopening which would allow Thai Airways to restart their operations during or following their bankruptcy administration, the carrier is now pushed to reorganize at all cost and that includes shrinking their workforce and fleet drastically. THAI has already sent other groups of their employees into early retirement and offered a buy out scheme to others, getting them to resign voluntarily.

Sacking a third of their pilots is the next big step in cutting down the carrier to a manageable size for the years to come. Typical Thai management style (favoritism and corruption) has let the number of employees swell to unreasonable numbers over the decades. The hiring policy was largely based on connections to the company or someone at other levers of power.

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