Thai Airways Starting Bangkok To Dusseldorf Flights

Thai Airways has announced that they plan to discontinue their second daily Bangkok to Frankfurt flight (TG922/923), as of December 1, 2014.

What makes me want to slam my forehead against a desk is the route that they’ll be launching with the aircraft they were previously flying to Frankfurt. Thai Airways will be launching four times weekly 747-400 service between Bangkok and Dusseldorf as of December 2, 2014. They used to fly this route up until 1990, so I guess you could say they’re resuming the route, almost 25 years later.

Thai-Airways-First-Class
Thai Airways 747 first class

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

TG926 Bangkok to Dusseldorf departing 12:55AM arriving 7:00AM
TG927 Dusseldorf to Bangkok departing at 1:15PM and arriving 5:50AM (+1 day)

There are many things I love about Thai Airways — the amount of award space they release and their first class ground services in Bangkok (from the lounge with semi-private living rooms, to the complimentary hour long massage, to being escorted every step of the way from the moment you arrive) come to mind.

Thai-Airways-Lounge
Thai Airways first class lounge Bangkok

But operationally they are just a hot mess. They’re expecting to lose 20 billion Baht this year (~630 million USD) due largely to poor operating performance.

Unfortunately they’re just so off with their strategy. Thai tourism has weakened, and the reality is that as much as they’d like to think otherwise, they can’t compete with the likes of Singapore Airlines when it comes to luring connecting passengers. They’ve admitted time and again that they lose money on first class and basically keep it for royalty, which makes you wonder whether they’re even trying to run a for-profit business (don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that they have first class, given how easy award space is to come by)

Anyway, while I believe there wasn’t enough demand for two daily Thai flights between Bangkok and Frankfurt, that at least opened them up to lots of connections on Lufthansa. Surely they don’t think that Dusseldorf is the solution?

Bottom line

I’d expect to see tons of award space on this flight, though that’s generally the case on most Thai flights anyway. In the meantime, if they’re serious about not running huge losses, I think they might need to put someone else in charge of their route planning…

Anyone have a different take on this than I do?

Comments

  1. I have a relative that works in Thai airways as a FA, she said that Thai has cut off a lot of FA since they are loosing so much money. In addition, I don’t get the fact that why they bought in so many new aircrafts, it’s just a mess of planning. I completely agree with you.

  2. I believe Thai hopes to use DUS to tap into Dutch market as well since they are banned from flying to AMS.

  3. Works just fine for me….Lufthansa usually has more seats open for ORD-DUS than they do on the ORD-FRA flights. So, if you’re based out of ORD like me it’s a positive move

  4. @Tom: they’re really banned from flying to AMS? Do you have any background on that, cannot find anything on the internet.

  5. @JMR I don’t remember where I read it from but years ago a flight attendant was trying to smuggle drugs into the country and that was resulted in the ban. Of course, this could be rumors or some conspiracy theory.

  6. Is there an LH First Class lounge in DUS for passengers entering from the US on LH and departing on TG? If so, is the lounge anywhere near as good as the Frankfurt First Class lounge?

  7. @ Tom – No one’s going to catch a train from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf to get a flight to Bangkok. It’s over 200km, which is thought of as a long distance in Northern Europe. You’d either fly KLM non-stop or, if you needed to fly *A, you’d connect in one stop on any number of carriers: LH, SQ, SK, TK, LX.

    All I can think of is they’re hoping that Cologne, Bonn & Dusseldorf comprise a large enough basin of point-to-point tourists that they can make some money up the back of the plane (or in discounted business — it’s a wealthy area.) But I agree with @Kelt that it just seems like they have too many damn planes.

  8. @ Lantean — The Frankfurt service was 6x per week, so it’s a net reduction of 2x per week. I’m guessing they’re just leaving a bit more slack in the overall schedule.

  9. @ Joediver — Agreed from a passenger perspective it’s good, and there’s a reason Lufthansa has more space — it’s lower yield and there’s less demand. But from Thai’s perspective I hardly see how that’s a good thing…

  10. @ Ed — Just a Senator Lounge. Keep in mind Thai first class doesn’t get you Lufthansa First Class Lounge access, but rather just Lufthansa Senator Lounge entrance.

  11. From personal experience, there is very lucrative “marketing support” available from Dusseldorf airport for new longhaul flights. Also, the size of the Dusseldorf catchment area is sizeable – encompassing Dusseldorf-Dortmund-Koln-Aachen and also areas in Belgium and Netherlands for whom access to Brussels/Amsterdam is less convenient. Finally, there is a sizeable tourist market between Germany and Thailand – LTU used to be very successful on their Bangkok to Dusseldorf route. Lufthansa is not known for being very co-operative with the tour agencies so I would not be surprised if a sizeable tour contract is driving this service as well.

  12. @Lucky To add to what Sean says, you have to remember that in Germany, rail connections play a big part at airports; Lufthansa even codeshares with DB ICE services for domestic connections. Dusseldorf is a couple of hours closer to a lot of North German, Belgian and Dutch cities than Frankfurt and still overlaps with Frankfurt. If Sean is correct then this is driven by the leisure market then less frequent flights over a wider area could work for them.

  13. @Tom I got to check that out šŸ™‚

    @Josh: you’re talking about the Dutch. They’ll drive 200kms for a 5 euro discount šŸ˜‰ (I’m Dutch, I can say that). Actually, I’ve taken some trips from DUS, just because it’s way cheaper. I live about 40kms from AMS and I had to go to Munich. AMS-MUN: 380 euros. DUS-MUN: 115. Yep, then I’ll drive a bit more. But apart from me, Dusseldorf is actually closer to the most of the east of The Netherlands with cities like Enschede (158,000), Arnhem (150,000), Nijmegen (170,000) and Venlo (100,000) that rather go to Dusseldorf than to Amsterdam. Apart from the traffic, you can drive faster in Germany and parking is cheaper @DUS. Of course, people from the more populated west of the country (Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague) will prefer to fly from AMS, but still they can catch quite a nice market from Dusseldorf. And don’t forget about the Rurhgebiet: with 5.3 million inhabitants quite an interesting market. Frankfurt is still a 2 hour drive away…

  14. What they should do is upgrade the business class to make it more in line with the likes of SQ/CX, consider introducing better seats for one for more privacy, and then get rid of first class. That way, the royalty can travel in J too.

  15. Can you provide a link to the official announcement from the Thai site?

    I had heard about the rumored cancellation of TG922/923 and further noticed that they had zeroed out all space on the flight stating on 12/1 as of last friday. This made sense if they were in the process of cancelling the flight.

    But this morning they had reopened space and started selling seats on TG923/923. There is also award seats available in Dec. and into 2015

    The posts on FT are confusing to say the least, The last one quotes a TG CSA that 922/923 is back, so was looking for some official confirmation.

  16. Strange, last night when I read this I check with Thai website and booking no longer show TG 922/923 for booking (but they are still there in the timetable). Now the booking showing TG922/923 back again.

    I have a booking on TG923 around new year, so I call their call centre (Thailand) but apparently the agent there have not heard anything about this. Anyone know what is the policy regarding something like this will be for other airlines, especially if I have a connecting flight?

  17. This is great news. Air Berlin used to fly the BKK-DUS route for years until they entered one world alliance.
    Dusseldorf is easy to reach for many Dutch and Belgians. I just hope that this does not affect load factors for Thai’s BKK- Brussels route, as I would hate to see them leave Brussels again…

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