Thai Airways International was born in 1960, as a joint venture between Thailand’s domestic carrier, Thai Airways Company (TAC) and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), with the Scandinavian part providing a 30% share capital of two million Baht.
On the 1st of May, 1960, THAI commenced operations, connecting Bangkok to nine overseas Asia destinations.
Intercontinental services were introduced a decade later – Australia in 1971, Europe in 1972, and North America, in 1980.
On the 1st of April, 1977, the Thai government bought out the remaining 15% of SAS-owned shares, turning THAI into a company fully-owned by the state.
Exactly 11 years later, Thai Airways Company (TAC), the operator of all domestic flights merged with the international division, forming today’s Thai Airways International.
In late June, 1991, THAI was listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
In mid-May, 1997, along with Lufthansa, Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines System and United Airlines, THAI founded Star Alliance.
During the 2000s, Thai Airways continued to expand its route network offering flights to Chengdu, Busan, Chennai, Xiamen,Milan, Moscow, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Johannesburg and Oslo.
In 2005, THAI started to offer nonstop flights from Bangkok to New York, the airline’s first nonstop service to North America.
After 40 years of profitability, THAI reported losses in 2008 for the first time in its history, but got back to profit the following year, after a series of restructuring measures.
In 2010, THAI defined new plans for its future, such as a renewal of the aircraft fleet.
During the last semester of 2012, the airline has received its first Airbus A380 Aircraft, with the purpose of implementing the aircraft on its main European routes.
THAI has restarted the network expansion with the recommencement of the flights to Brussels, besides starting with a nonstop flight from Copenhagen to Phuket.
In July 2012, as part of its broader regional growth strategy, THAI launched THAI Smile, its regional subsidiary, which operates narrow-body Airbus A320-200 aircraft on regional and domestic routes and offers light-premium services intended to serve the market gap between full-service airlines and low-cost carriers.
In October 2015, THAI canceled its service to Los Angeles, marking the end of US service after 35 years of serving North America.
In September 2016, THAI Smile, THAI’s regional subsidiary, announced four new services to Gaya, Jaipur, Varanasi, and Lucknow in India marking the expansion of THAI’s network on the regional market.
At the Skytrax 2016 World Airline Awards ceremony, THAI won two prestigious awards: Most Improved Airline and Best Airline Lounge Spa Facility. THAI also placed in the top three in three categories: Best Economy Class Onboard Catering, Best Airline Staff Service in Asia, and World’s Best Airport Services.
Starting January 2017, Thai Smile moved all of its operations to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport ending its presence at Don Mueang. The move is in line with THAI business plan with Thai Smile focusing on the Chinese, Indian, and ASEAN markets from a singular Bangkok hub.
In 2018, Thai Airways reported a net loss of 11.6 billion baht (~365 million USD), more than five times compared to 2.11 billion baht loss reported in 2017. Hence, the management team set a turnaround plan with the goal of returning to sustainable profitability by 2022, as well as joining the ranks of the world’s top five airlines.
In 2019, Thai Airways announced its plans of fleet renewal as part of the turnaround plan. Thai Airways is looking to acquire, through purchase or lease, 38 new aircraft in two phases, 31 aircraft to replace old ones from 2020 to 2024 and 7 aircraft to be added to the fleet at a later date. Thai Airways is also focusing on reducing costs, increasing sources of non-core business income, such as catering and digital marketing, as well as studying new routes to increase income.
During its history, THAI only recorded two deadly incidents. On the 31st of July, 1992, an Airbus A310-304 crashed on its descent to Tribhuvan International Airport, killing all 113 people on board, while six years later, in mid-December, an Airbus A310-200 crashed on landing near Surat Thani on its third landing attempt in heavy rain and 102 of the 143 people on board perished.