Thai Airways is pulling out of Los Angeles International Airport later this year, dropping its four times per week flight to Bangkok with a stop in Seoul, according to airlineroute.net.
Industry insiders often talk about this route and laugh, with many suggesting this is probably among the most unprofitable routes in the world. I don't know whether this is true, but I'm nearly certain L.A.-Seoul-Bangkok is a money loser. A lot of smaller national airlines believe the must fly to the United States, almost as a point of pride.
But it seems Thai Airways has given up the Boeing 777 flights, and it won't serve the United States at all after Oct. 25. Thai is a bit of a mess these days - the airline has had some safety lapses - and it may have to shrink itself to become a better airline. Bangkok-Rome is also going away, airlineroute.net says.
Until 2012, Thai flew nonstop between Bangkok and Los Angeles, one of the longest routes in the world. That flight, on an Airbus A340, probably lost enough more money than the one-stop through Seoul. The A340 is likely the least fuel efficient widebody still flying, but the A340-500 has a lot of range, which is why Thai was flying it.
According to Bloomberg, Thai has lost money in each of the past two years, and will take a loss again this year. Bloomberg reported Thai is selling 42 old planes this year - all for less than book value - while it reduces its fleet to only 77 aircraft. More from Bloomberg:
The state-controlled carrier is seeking to improve its finances after political unrest in Thailand ending in a military coup d’etat last May sent Thai Airways to its biggest loss since 2008. The carrier and most other regional airlines also are seeing profit margins narrow as budget operators and Mideast rivals attract travelers with cheaper fares.
“It will be another tough year for Thai Airways in 2015, as the company is implementing a painful recovery program,” Charamporn said. “The tourist rebound and low fuel costs have provided a great relief, even though competition in the industry remains very fierce.”
What do you think about Thai decision to leave Los Angeles?