Is Thai Airways preparing to leave the United States?
If the airline is serious about making money, it probably should pull out. Thai has only one U.S. route - one stop service between Los Angeles and Bangkok. At one point, Thai operated one of the longest flights in the world, a nonstop from L.A. to Bangkok, but it pulled the route in 2012 after four years. I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing the flight - on an relatively inefficient Airbus A340 aircraft - lost a fortune.
The new Los Angeles route, with a stop in Seoul, probably does a little better, if only because it's flown with a more fuel efficient Boeing 777. But L.A. to Seoul is a crowded market owned by Asiana and Korean Airlines, so I am not sure what Thai brings to the table, besides the connection to Bangkok. And Bangkok isn't exactly a high-yielding market.
Recently, Thai scrapped long-haul flights from Bangkok to Madrid, Bangkok to Johannesburg and Bangkok to Moscow, according to the Bangkok Post. The Post quoted the airline's president as saying Los Angles might be next on the chopping block. The airline is 51% owned by the Thai Finance Ministry.
The next destination that could be scrapped is to Los Angeles. Mr Charamporn said the carrier will evaluate the business potential of the flight to the United States in the second quarter.
The flights to Spain and Russia from Bangkok and the Phuket-Seoul service are in the red. The Los Angeles flight suffers the same fate due to fierce competition across the Pacific.
One thing I have learned while covering this business is that a certain amount of politics goes into these decisions, especially in smaller countries. Politicians and royal families sometimes want the local flag carrier to fly to the United States, as something of an exercise in ego. So it's certainly possible Thai would continue flying to L.A. even as losses mount.
Then again, Thailand's ruling junta has asked Thai Airways to get its act together, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that the carrier, Thailand’s first and largest, wouldn’t seek bankruptcy protection, but surgery is needed to keep it going," the WSJ reported. So that's a factor, too.
What do you think? Will Thai Airways leave Los Angeles?