Thai Airways Mulls Selling 2 Airbus A380 Superjumbos

THAI Airways is considering the possibility of selling two of its Airbus A380 aircraft. The news comes after it commenced a market survey to gauge any potential second-hand interest in the pair of superjumbos. Interested parties have two weeks to submit their proposals.

Thai Airbus A380 Frankfurt
Thai Airways received its first Airbus A380 in September 2012. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

An initial survey of interest

Yesterday saw the Thai flag carrier put out a request for an indication of interest in two of its parked Airbus A380s. According to FlightGlobal, the aircraft in question have respectively amassed 30,645 and 29,639 flight hours. They are currently parked at U-Tapao International Airport (UTP) near Rayong, Thailand.

Planespotters.net shows that the only two THAI superjumbos to be stored here are HS-TUE and HS-TUF. These are THAI’s two newest A380s. For now, the airline is not making a formal offer to sell the planes, but merely gauging market interest for them. It states the survey’s purpose is:

“…to identify potential bidders who may be interested in buying the used passenger aircraft, and does not intend to and should not be treated as a formal offer to sell the aircraft by THAI.”

Thai Airways Airbus A380 Frankfurt
HS-TUF has been in storage at Rayong since April 2020. Photo: Jake Hardiman – Simple Flying

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Having issued its survey yesterday (March 11th), THAI is giving interested parties a two-week window to express their interest and submit a proposal to the airline. When the deadline elapses on March 25th, the airline will have a better idea of market interest in the aircraft. This will likely influence whether the carrier does ultimately go on to sell the two superjumbos.

A brief history of the A380 at THAI Airways

THAI Airways took delivery of its first of six A380s just over eight years ago. September 27th, 2012 marked the arrival of the first of six superjumbos at the Bangkok-based carrier. The final delivery took place just over a year later, in November 2013.

THAI Airways Airbus A380 Getty
Interested parties have two weeks to submit their proposals to THAI. Photo: Getty Images

THAI’s A380s sport the following 507-seat three-class configuration.

  • 12 ‘Royal First’ flatbeds.
  • 60 ‘Royal Silk Business’ flatbeds.
  • 435 economy class seats (including an all-economy lower deck).

THAI was the ninth airline to introduce the A380, and its purple-tailed superjumbos were among the most striking examples of the type. However, eight years on, it has found that there is little place for the double-decker behemoth. Industry trends have begun to move away from the high-capacity, hub-to-hub model that the A380 demands.

The drop in passenger numbers caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only compounded the aircraft’s struggles. These issues came to a head last month when reports emerged that THAI would be retiring all of its A380s, as well as its A330s and Boeing 747s. Going forward, it appears to be eyeing an all-twinjet long-haul fleet of 777s, 787s, and A350s.

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 about to complete a domestic
THAI’s Boeing 747s are also targets of its fleet restructuring program. Photo: Getty Images

A limited second-hand market for the A380

It will certainly be able to see who, if anyone, submits a proposal for THAI’s A380s. A few years ago, the airline might have found itself faced with reasonable interest for the aircraft. After all, Airbus stated as recently as November 2019 that it believed in a second-hand A380 market.

However, the 12 months that followed saw commercial aviation faced with an unprecedented health crisis with widespread impacts. As we have established, one of these was to render the A380 largely obsolete due to the drop in demand and changing network trends. As such, the second-hand market for the A380 is, sadly, now largely considered to be over.

Do you think Thai Airways will succeed in finding buyers for its two A380s? Have you ever flown on one of the airline’s superjumbos? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!


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