Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) has decided to delay the retirement of its six remaining B747-400s until 2022 to mitigate the capacity shortages caused by B787-8s groundings and the postponement of fleet renewal decision, Air Transport World has reported.

VP (Alliances and Commercial Strategy) Krittaphon Chantalitanon said that the carrier had extended the retirement of the Boeing quadjets "for another year or so". According to the current schedule, Thai plans to phase out one B747 in 2019, one in 2020, and two each in 2021 and 2022. It had already retired two units of the type earlier this year.

The Thai flag carrier might also extend the lifeline of some of its older B777s or, alternatively, keep the current phaseout schedule for these units but lease second-hand aircraft for a short term.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the carrier currently operates six B777-200s (with an average age of 21.8 years), six B777-200(ER)s (11.7 years), six B777-300s (19 years), and fourteen B777-300(ER)s (4.9 years).

The carrier's B747s are 19 years old on average. According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Thai deploys the quadjets mostly on medium-haul regional routes out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to each of Beijing Capital, Denpasar, Guangzhou, Phuket, Mumbai Int'l, Tokyo Haneda, as well as on long-haul sectors to Sydney Kingsford Smith, Frankfurt Int'l, and Zurich. The carrier remains one of the world's largest remaining passenger B747 operators behind British Airways, Lufthansa, Rossiya, Qantas, and Virgin Atlantic.

Krittaphon said that the carrier had not adjusted its schedule due to the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-related groundings of its B787-8s. Out of six units of the type Thai operates, four are currently grounded. Given the lack of adjustment of the schedule, Thai currently would fly "a very tight schedule" and had poor on-time performance, Krittaphon added.

In addition, the carrier delayed its choice of aircraft for the planned fleet renewal after the public finances watchdog questioned its earlier plan. Thai now plans to announce the revised fleet renewal plan in December 2018. It is considering A330-800s, A330-900s, A350s, B787-9s, and B777X types for the mainline operation.