Thai Airways International Public Company Limited, also trading as THAI is the flag carrier airline of Thailand. Formed in 1988, the airline has its corporate headquarters in Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Chatuchak District, Bangkok, and primarily operates out of Suvarnabhumi Airport. THAI is a founding member of the Star Alliance. The airline is the largest shareholder of the low-cost carrier Nok Air with a 49% stake, and it launched a regional carrier under the name Thai Smile in the middle of 2012 using new Airbus A320 aircraft.
From its hub at Suvarnabhumi Airport, THAI flies to 78 destinations in 35 countries, using a fleet of more than 80 aircraft. The airline was once the operator of two of the world's longest non-stop routes between Bangkok and Los Angeles and New York City, but due to high fuel prices, the withdrawal of aircraft, luggage weight limits and rising airfares, the airline abandoned all non-stop U.S. services in 2012 indefinitely. As of 2013, services between Bangkok and Los Angeles are served via Incheon International Airport near Seoul. THAI's route network is dominated by flights to Europe, East Asia, and South/Southwest Asia, though the airline serves Johannesburg in South Africa and five cities in Oceania. THAI was the first Asia-Pacific airline to serve London Heathrow Airport. Among Asia-Pacific carriers, THAI has one of the largest passenger operations in Europe.
THAI is currently an official sponsor of Bangkok United and Red Bull Racing.
While celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2010, THAI, spearheaded by Piyasvasti Amranand, its president and a former energy minister, charted new plans for the airline's future, including a significant aircraft fleet renewal and an upgrade of existing services. THAI has since placed orders for a number of aircraft, including the cost-efficient Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, and it has also launched a refurbishment of its Boeing 747 and 777 cabins. Mindful of rising fuel costs, the airline have now phased-out the most inefficient aircraft, including its Airbus A340-500s. The airline took delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft in the last half of 2012, intending to eventually deploy the aircraft on its core European routes.
THAI has also resumed its network expansion with the resumption of flights to Brussels, in addition to a new non-stop flight from Copenhagen to Phuket. At the same time, the Greek debt crisis caused THAI to suspend its services to Athens.
As part of THAI's broader growth strategy in the region, THAI launched a regional carrier with light-premium services, Thai Smile which operate narrow-bodied Airbus A320-200 on regional and domestic routes. The new airline initiated commercial operations in July 2012, after its first A320s were received.
THAI expects to be the first carrier in Asia to fly commercial flights using biofuels. The carrier launched the initiative with experimental flights in December 2011 as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility program, otherwise known as "Travel Green." THAI hopes to stimulate sustained biofuel production in Thailand by working with Thai government agencies and regional corporate partners, such as PTT Public Company Limited. The effort aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in regional air travel as well as position Thailand to be the "bio hub" of Asia.
The stretched 777-300 was designed as an A-market replacement for 747-100s and 747-200s. Compared to the older 747s, the stretched 777 has comparable passenger capacity and range, but burns one-third less fuel and has 40 percent lower maintenance costs. The -300 features a 33.3 ft (10.1 m) fuselage stretch over the baseline -200. This allows seating for up to 550 passengers in a single class high-density configuration, an arrangement adopted for heavily trafficked Japanese routes. Because of the aircraft's length, the -300 is equipped with a tailskid and ground maneuvering cameras to aid pilots during taxi. The maximum range is 6,015 nautical miles (11,140 km), allowing the -300 to operate trunk routes previously flown by older 747s.
After being certified simultaneously by the FAA and JAA, the first -300 was delivered to Cathay Pacific on May 21, 1998. Eight -300 customers have taken delivery of 60 aircraft, all were in service as of July 2014. However, following the introduction of the longer-range -300ER in 2004, operators have selected that variant instead. The -300 has no direct Airbus rival, but the A340-600 was offered in competition.