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Thai Air to Order 37 Planes to Replace Aging Fleet

Thai Airways International Pcl plans to order 37 new aircraft to replace aging planes and expand routes, President Piyasvasti Amranand said.

The new jets will begin operation by the end of 2017, Piyasvasti told analysts in Bangkok, according to a presentation of the meeting posted on the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s website today. Thai Airways earlier placed a separate order for 26 new aircraft for delivery by 2013, Piyasvasti said.

Piyasvasti, Thailand’s former energy minister, is shopping for planes after cutting expenses and restructuring debt to help revive state-controlled Thai Airways after a record loss in 2008. The carrier raised about 15 billion baht ($499 million) from a share sale to existing shareholders in September to strengthen its finances.

“Thai Airways’ biggest problem is the limited fleet capacity to serve its increasing passenger load,” said Piyasvasti. “Most of its aircraft are also very old, making it hard to compete with other airlines.”

The airline still hasn’t determined which models it will buy from either Boeing Co. or Airbus SAS, he said. The company plans to replace 32 older aircraft between 2013 and 2017, he said.

Thai Airways surged 8.8 percent to 49.50 baht at the 4:30 p.m. close in Bangkok, the highest since November 2006.

The carrier’s fleet will increase to 105 by the end of 2017 from 84, Piyasvasti said. The new planes will cut the average age of its fleet to about 8 years from 11 years, he said.

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