Paul Lewis/SINGAPORE Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

Thai Airways International has been given approval to take delivery of 17 new aircraft over the next three years, despite Thailand's economic difficulties. Financial problems elsewhere are forcing Garuda Indonesia to seek an early return of six leased Boeing MD-11s, while Qantas is seeking to acquire surplus Asian 747-400s.

The Thai national carrier now plans to stick to the original delivery schedule agreed with Airbus and Boeing. Thai says that the aircraft are needed to rationalise its fleet and to improve route efficiency, and that any delay would incur additional storage charges.

Deliveries through to the end of the 1997/8 financial year on 30 September will comprise five A300-600Rs, three A330-300s, one 747-400 and Thai's first 777-300. A second 777-300 and a 747-400 are due for delivery in 1998/9, with the airline's last A330-300 slipping to the following year. Two 777-300s are due in 1999/2000 and the final two in 2000/1.

Garuda Indonesia has scrapped plans to dispose of five McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30s and instead wants to return to Boeing six leased MD-11ERs, which it says it can no longer afford. The airline has suspended many of the international routes on which the aircraft are used.

It is also looking to lease out six A330-300s it cannot afford and has put four 747-200s and five A300B4s up for sale.

Ongoing financial difficulties are again preventing Garuda from raising funding for its next 12 737-300/400s, half of which are completed and sitting in Seattle. The first five 737s were only delivered in late 1997 after Boeing stepped in with bridge financing, but it has indicated that this will not be repeated.

Qantas is expected shortly to announce plans to acquire as many as six 747-400s from flagging Asian carriers. The airline's board has discussed using the aircraft on planned new thrice-weekly services from Sydney to Buenos Aires via Auckland, to Zurich via Singapore and between Melbourne and London via Hong Kong.

It is understood that a recent three day closed conference, to discuss Qantas' fleet through to the end of 1999, settled on acquiring second-hand 747s rather than 777s or Airbus Industrie A340s. It is looking at buying an Asiana 747-400, and two Malaysia Airlines -400s.

Source: Flight International