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Asian airlines order total of 49 North Charleston-based Boeing Dreamliners

Ross Norton //February 20, 2024//

Thai Airlines intends to modernize its fleet with the purchase of 45 new Boeing Dreamliners. (Photo/Boeing Co.)

Thai Airlines intends to modernize its fleet with the purchase of 45 new Boeing Dreamliners. (Photo/Boeing Co.)

Asian airlines order total of 49 North Charleston-based Boeing Dreamliners

Ross Norton //February 20, 2024//

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Thai Airways is looking to modernize its widebody fleet with 45 new airplanes from the North Charleston headquarters of the Boeing Dreamliner program. Royal Brunei Airlines is ordering four Dreamliners.

Both deals were announced this morning in separate joint announcements between Boeing and Thai Airways and Boeing and Royal Brunei.

Thai Airways selected the 787-9 to support its long-term strategy to renew and expand its fleet with more efficient jets, as well as open new routes to support high demand for air travel across Southeast Asia, the company said in the news release.

“To accomplish our company’s and the national carbon neutral goals by 2050, the 45 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be equipped with GEnx engines, which are known for their cutting-edge technology and reduced environmental impact,” Chai Eamsiri, Thai Airways CEO, said in the release. “Furthermore, we are confident that the acquisition of the 787 Dreamliners will ultimately benefit our customers and support the growth of our country’s economy.”

Thai Airways flies widebody jets — including Boeing 777s and 787s — to nearly 60 domestic and international destinations, including the Middle East, Asia and Europe. With more 787-9s in their fleet, the airline will operate more efficiently, as the Dreamliner family reduces fuel use and emissions by up to 25% compared to the airplanes it replaces, the company stated in the release.

“Thai Airways’ strategic investment in the 787 Dreamliner builds on our long-standing partnership and signifies the airline’s commitment to operate a modern, efficient and flexible fleet,” Brad McMullen, Boeing senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing, said in the release. “This order will support Thai Airways’ ability to meet demand, foster tourism and trade, and create further opportunities for this carrier.”

The order, which was finalized in December 2023, was listed as unidentified on Boeing’s orders and deliveries website, the release said. Boeing’s 2023 Commercial Market Outlook for Southeast Asia projects that the region’s widebody fleet will see a three-fold increase over 20 years, with growing demand for nearly 800 airplanes including passenger jets such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner family and 777X, as well as freighter models.

At 20 feet longer than the 787-8, the 787-9 will enable Thai Airways to fly nearly 20% more passengers farther and build on routes first opened by the 787-8, according to the company. Since revenue service began in 2011, the 787 family has launched more than 390 new nonstop routes around the world.

The Royal Brunei Airlines order also is the 787-9.

“The forthcoming arrival of the 787-9 Dreamliner symbolizes a bold step forward in our ongoing journey toward innovation and excellence,” Sabirin bin Haji Abdul Hamid, CEO of Royal Brunei Airlines, said in their joint news release with Boeing. “Royal Brunei Airlines has been operating the 787-8 for the last 10 years and this order will ensure we continue with a product that our customers have come to enjoy. In our constant effort to offer unparalleled service matched with the highest safety standards to our guests, the new fleet will allow us the potential to tap into new growth areas, strengthening our market appeal and enabling us to provide a superior travel experience to our guests.”

Royal Brunei Airlines was the first Southeast Asian carrier to fly the 787 Dreamliner more than a decade ago.

Royal Brunei Airlines currently operates five 787-8s, serving destinations in Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. The 787-9, which can carry nearly 20% more passengers than the 787-8 and fly 7,565 nautical miles, will support the carrier’s growing capacity needs on these medium- and long-haul routes, the release said.

The deals were good news for Boeing, which has been dealing with quality control questions after a midair incident in January in which a door-sized panel blew out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9, an aircraft made in Renton, Wash.

“We’ve taken significant steps over the last several years to strengthen our safety and quality processes, but this accident makes it absolutely clear that we have more work to do,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a recent message to employees. “To that end, we have announced immediate and comprehensive actions to strengthen quality across our commercial airplanes programs and within our supply chain. In addition, our regulator has shared significant new actions to increase their oversight —  which we will fully and transparently support.

“This increased scrutiny — whether from ourselves, from our regulator, or from others — will make us better. As we move forward together, I ask all teammates to use their voices to speak up as we continue to focus on every detail through the lens of safety and quality first.”

Orders for the North Charleston Dreamliners were stalled in 2021 as the company addressed quality control concerns over tiny cracks in the fuselage. Deliveries resumed in 2022.

Related story: Boeing makes first delivery since 2021.