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THAI airways granted respite over purchases

Thai Airways

Thai Airways International has won temporary relief from plane-maker Airbus in its payments for six A330 aircraft.

The national airline cited an acute liquidity crunch in requesting a postponement of the payment, Narongsak Sangkhapong, THAI's acting president, said yesterday.

The flag carrier was due to make the first instalment this month and receive the new planes in April. Now it will make the first payment in February, but the delivery date remains the same.

For the remaining aircraft, THAI has been allowed a three-month delay for each payment date, which would push forward the second payment until May.

THAI will report the revised advance payment schedule to the Transport Ministry next week.

Narongsak also said the delivery of six A380s scheduled for next year is likely to drag into early 2011. "It's not certain if the reception schedule will be put off. Things will be clearer this month but we have to be prepared for the delay of the aircraft and adjust our schedule for decommissioning our old planes to make it consistent with the delay," he said.

THAI plans to decommission three A300-600s this year.

Surachai Tharasitpong, permanent secretary of the Transport Ministry and chairman of THAI, said new Transport Minister Sophon Saram will visit THAI on January 12 to discuss the airline's operating problems. The minister believes THAI should cut unnecessary costs and is expected to review the benefits of  THAI management and employees.

Earlier, the airline planned to lease 34 planes with delivery set to begin in 2012 for service on domestic and regional routes.  Of the total, 14 would be Boeing 787-9s for delivery from 2012-2015. These planes have been earmarked for regional routes with flight times of about six hours.

The company also agreed to place a down-payment of  Bt100 million on 20 Airbus A321s scheduled for delivery from 2012-2017.

Under its 10-year corporate plan, the airline will decommission 47 old aircraft and acquire 65 new jets.

THAI presently has firm orders for six Airbus A380s, due to start arriving in 2010, and eight Airbus A330-300s to be delivered beginning in October 2009.

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