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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  March 2011

Boeing makes THAI Airlines pitch

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Boeing is in Bangkok competing against Airbus in supplying an initial new fleet of 37 jetliners worth a combined US$14 billion to Thai Airways International (THAI).

The US plane maker is offering three types of aircraft - the 800 and 900 series of the B787 Dreamliner, the long-haul B777-300ER and the single-aisle B737-800.

Its main selling point is early availability for THAI's first block of its dual-phase fleet renewal programme.

"The advantage we have: our aircraft are available sooner," Randy Tinseth, the vice-president for marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said yesterday.

The company is offering to make available 11 B737-800s, 13 B787-800s or B787-900s and 13 B777-300ERs from 2012-17.

Christopher Flint, Boeing's senior sales director for the Asia-Pacific, said the 787-800 will be available for leasing from 2014-15, a full 4-5 years ahead of the first rollout of the A350 XWB, a comparable-sized plane under development by the European producer Airbus.

The new Boeing B777-300ER is also available for purchase by THAI as a replacement for the flag carrier's ageing 747-400 jumbo jets. Airbus has no aircraft of similar size and capability. Mr. Flint said the bulk of the Boeing aircraft can be leased, a strategy that THAI management finds acceptable.

"It makes senses if THAI can lease the aircraft to meet their more immediate needs and wait for the new-generation planes, which they can acquire later," the American executive told the Bangkok Post.

THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand is reportedly eager for final government approval for at least the initial phase of its long-delayed defleeting programme before the present administration leaves office.

Also looming large on Boeing's radar screen is the possibility of supplying aircraft to THAI during second phase of the plan from 2018-22 - 38 wide-body jetliners worth a combined $8.03 billion.

It is especially pushing the B747-8 Intercontinental, its next-generation jumbo jet. Boeing hopes to account for the lion's share of THAI's fleet renewal, as Mr. Flint said it is only sensible to assume the airline will split the orders between it and the European plane maker.

Mr. Tinseth also forecast Southeast Asian carriers will require 2,500 new planes worth a combined $370 billion over the next 20 years. Three-quarters of these will be needed to meet traffic growth, and the rest will replace ageing fleets. Globally, airlines will need 30,900 new airplanes worth $3.6 trillion through 2029, 44% of them replacing older planes.

The world fleet is projected almost to double in size from 18,890 planes to 36,300 during this period.

"The doubling of the world fleet size is an indicator that airlines will not only plan for growth, but also take the economically rational step of modernizing their fleets as a hedge against high and unpredictable oil prices," said Mr Tinseth.


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ASEAN  ANALYSIS

This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs  
04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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