Last week I traveled to Toulouse in order to attend the delivery ceremony of Thai Airways’ first Airbus A380-800.
With this delivery the Thai flag carrier becomes the 9th A380 operator, an important step in the airline’s fleet renewal plans, as it gradually retires its Boeing 747 fleet. The significance of the event for Thai Airways was highlighted by the number of media attending, that included not only specialized trade press but also many journalists working for general media that had come all the way from Thailand for the occasion.
Thai’s Captain Montree Jumrieng provided details on the route deployment plans for the carrier’s new A380s, the first aircraft will be deployed on routes to Hong Kong and Singapore followed by Star Alliance’s Frankfurt hub as soon as the second A380 is delivered, in December 2012 (you can find the rest of the deployment calendar here).
This trip was also an excellent occasion to visit the A380 assembly plant, an amazing sight, since it is one of the largest buildings in Europe.
We next headed towards the nearby Airbus Delivery Center, where Thai Airway’s first A380, named Si Rattana” (Majestic Jewel), was waiting for us.
On exiting the factory, we could see several more A380s by the runway, all of them at very advanced completion stages: two of them already in Malaysian Airlines livery, another being readied for China Southern and, remarkably, Thai’s 4th A380 (we were told that Thai’s 2nd and 3rd A380s were in Hamburg undergoing their fitting process).
As you can see, the famous light of Southern France was notoriously absent on this day!
We could walk all around (and below!) the aircraft, however, it was not until after the next day’s formal delivery ceremony that we would be allowed onboard to check the cabin interior.
At Thursday’s ceremony speeches by Kiran Rao (Airbus), Nick Devall (Rolls Royce) and Capt. Montree Jumrieng (Thai Airways) highlighted the long term relationship between the Thai airline and the European manufacturer, that goes back to 1977, when it was one of the first carriers to order the, then state-of-the-art, A300-B4.
And, of course, some Thai dances were also in the programme!
When it comes to cabin interiors, Thai has opted for a relatively low-density configuration, with 507 seats, 377 economy seats on the main deck and an upper deck featuring three service classes: 12 first class seats, 60 business class seats and 58 in economy.
An aircraft visit could not be complete without seeing the cockpit!
Curious fact: It only takes about a month of training for A340 pilots to transition to the A380
You can see more pictures of Thai Airways’ first A380 delivery ceremony on our A380 image gallery.
For further information see also:
Thai receives first A380 at Toulouse ceremony
Thai Airways announces A380 route plans
AIRLINE PROFILE: Thai Airways (Pro Only)