Thai Airways Approves Purchase of 8 Airbus A330s at Discount

BANGKOK, Thailand_Thai Airways's board approved an order for eight A330-300 aircraft from Airbus at a discount of more than US$10 million (€7.6 million) each, the state-owned carrier said Wednesday.

Airbus had earlier offered a discount of $10 million (€7.64 million) per plane and an option for four more in compensation for delays in the delivery of six superjumbo A380s that Thai Airways has ordered.

In additional compensation, Airbus will deduct a total of US$28.08 million (€21.44 million) from payments for the eight A330 planes, company president Apinan Sumanaseni said at a press conference after a board meeting.

Thai Airway's first superjumbo is due to be delivered in September 2010, 20 months behind schedule, and the last of the six aircraft should be delivered within two years, Apinan said.

Thai Airways Chairman Chalit Pukbhasuk said the final discount for each A330 aircraft would be more than $10 million (€7.64 million), but refused to be more specific. He declined to give the exact price for each of the A330 aircraft, saying that the list price for the plane was $140 million (€107 million), but that prices actually offered to airlines differed.

The first A330 is to arrive in October 2008, and the last in 2010, he said.

"It remained necessary for the company to use the Airbus A380-800, a long-range aircraft type with a seat capacity of 519 seats, in order to increase its productivity on routes with high passenger traffic and restraints in increasing flight frequencies, such as London, Frankfurt, and Paris," Thai Airways said in a statement.

Apinan said that Thai Airways International PCL will not exercise the option for the additional four A330s because the delivery slots didn't fit the airline's plans.

He indicated that the airline will be in the market for additional planes, because 16 of the company's fleet will be more than 20 years old and ready for retirement within the next five years.

Airbus plans to deliver the first A380 to Singapore Airlines this October - a year later than originally planned.