The head of commercial operations at Thai Lion Air (SL, Bangkok Don Mueang) says the low-cost carrier will not be resuming A330 flights, instead intending to focus on narrowbody Boeing operations.

Speaking to The Bangkok Post, Nuntaporn Komonsittivate said Thai Lion Air would boost its 11-strong B737 fleet to 13 this month to cater to the recently reopened Chinese market. Thai Lion Air flies to 10 Chinese destinations from is Bangkok hub and load factors are running at around 80%. The airline intends to expand to cities such as Wuhan, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou shortly.

That expansion will be facilitated by the arrival of additional aircraft, including another two B737s in May and three in July. Thai Lion Air aims to have an 18 strong fleet of B737s by the end of the year, still around half of the 35 aircraft it had in 2019. Komonsittivate says the incoming aircraft will be a mix of B737-800s and B737-900s. Presently, the airline operates only B737-800s.

Prior to the pandemic, Thai Lion Air had a small fleet of A330s which it used to service markets in Japan. In 2H 2017, the airline acquired three A330-300s which it began replacing with A330-900Ns in 2019. The last A330-300s exited the airline in 1H 2020, and going into the pandemic, Thai Lion Air operated a pair of A330-900s - HS-LAK (msn 1933) and HS-LAL (msn 1939) - which were swapped out for two other A330-900s in 2021, HS-LAQ (msn 1984) and HS-LAR (msn 1987). However, both those aircraft exited the fleet in June 2022.

Komonsittivate told the Bangkok Post there were no plans to reintroduce the A330s, although she did not cite any specific reasons why. ch-aviation has contacted Thai Lion Air for further details. However she did say that while markets were recovering nicely, the short to medium strategy is to increase frequencies on existing routes and that the airline expects to restore its fleet to pre-pandemic numbers by 2025.