Featured image: Denis Fedorko, CC BY-SA 4.0

5/01/1988: Thai Airways International Is Established

DALLAS – Today, in 1988, Thailand’s then Prime Minister, General Prem Tinsulanonda, announced a cabin resolution to merge the country’s two national carriers to form Thai Airways International (TG).

Previously, Thailand was served by one domestic and one international airline. As a result of the merger, TG was valued at 2,230 million Thai Baht.

Thai Airways Company operated a fleet of five Boeing 737-200s. Photo: Tim Rees GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

Domestic Developments

The domestic arm, Thai Airways Company (TH), can trace its history back to November 1, 1951, when Siamese Airways and Pacific Overseas Airlines merged. TH was based in Bangkok and operated a wide and varied fleet, from the Hawker Siddeley HS748 to the Airbus A310.

In 1959, TH joined forces with SAS Scandinavian Airline System (SK) to establish an international carrier. SK provided two million Thai baht to purchase 30% of the shares, plus operational, managerial, and marketing expertise. It also helped to train the airline’s new pilots and flight attendants.

The DC-10-30s were used to operate long-haul services to Europe and North America. Photo: RuthAS, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

International Expansion

Flights commenced on May 1, 1960, from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Taipei, and Tokyo using a fleet of three Douglas DC-6Bs leased from SAS. The airline soon added eleven additional international destinations across Asia. Eighty-three thousand passengers were carried in the first year.

The airline quickly became renowned for its exquisite ‘Royal Orchid Service’ Intercontinental services using Douglas DC-8 jets commenced in 1971 to Australia, followed by Europe in 1972. Flights to North America began in 1980 using a fleet of six wide-bodied Douglas DC-10s.

On April 1, 1977, the Thai government purchased SAS’s remaining shares, with the airline becoming a fully-owned state enterprise of the country’s government.

Featured image showsThai Airways International Boeing 747-400 pictured in a retro livery. The airline retired its Boeing 747 fleet in 2021.

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