Thai Airways International is expanding its business with the help of aircraft acquisitions - including an order for Airbus A340-500/600s - and new codeshare agreements.

In October, Thai plans to take delivery of six Boeing 747-400s, two of which are new-build aircraft from the manufacturer and four are ex-United Airlines examples. Another three ex-United 747-400s will be delivered in October 2004. The airline is acquiring eight A340s - three -500s for delivery from October 2004 and five -600s, which will begin arriving in October 2005. Thai says that one of the reasons for the new acquisitions is that it is considering selling its Boeing MD-11s and converting some other aircraft types to freighters.

The airline recently gained regulatory approval from Thailand's national economic and social development board to purchase the 17 aircraft and now needs clearance from Thailand's ministry of transport and communications and the prime minister's cabinet.

Meanwhile, Thai is expanding its business by implementing codeshares with Star Alliance partner carriers Asiana Airlines and BMI.

Asiana began codesharing with Thai on 14 July, mostly on routes between the airline's two home markets. From 17 July BMI's code appeared on Thai's 10 weekly return flights from Bangkok to London Heathrow. Thai, in turn, is placing its code on select BMI flights from London to Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds Bradford and Teesside.

"Spanair is likely to follow," says Thai vice-president alliances, Wallop Bhukkanasut, adding that talks are also under way with Star Alliance's Mexicana Airlines as well as Indian carrier Jet Airways.

Source: Flight International