Thai Airways joins A380 club

Thai Airways joins A380 club

As the world’s largest passenger jet turns five years old, Thailand’s flag carrier gets in on the superjumbo action
Thai Airways' new A380 has a three-class configuration and can carry 507 passengers.

Thai Airways is now the proud owner of its very own A380, becoming the ninth airline to offer flights on the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

Thailand's flag carrier picked up the first of six A380s on order at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, last weekend. 

The airplane will service Bangkok-Hong Kong and Bangkok-Singapore routes from October 6 until the delivery of a second aircraft in December, when it will hit the Bangkok-Frankfurt route. (Bangkok-Singapore A380 flights will be dropped, Bangkok-Hong Kong will continue.)

Early next year, Thai Airways will start flying the Airbus A380 on its Bangkok-Narita route, then Bangkok-Paris in February followed by Osaka, Sydney and London flights later in 2013. 

More on CNN: Boeing 747-8 vs. Airbus A380

No private suites

Thai Airways ordered a three-class configuration for its A380s, which can carry 507 passengers.

Royal First Class seats 12 passengers, Royal Silk Class (business) has room for 60 and economy class fits 435.

Unlike several airlines that have ordered private suites for their A380s, the bright, white first-class section on Thai Airways' planes feature only 12 “mini-suites,” a decision airline executives say they based on passenger feedback.

More on CNN: China's first Airbus A380 takes off

Seats are 26.5 inches wide and recline 180 degrees. First-class passengers also have access to an onboard multi-purpose lounge.

The 60 business class seats on Thai Airways' A380 are staggered with a 1-2-1 layout. The 60 Royal Silk Class staggered seats have a 1-2-1 layout, allowing couples to sit together. They also recline 180 degrees, but are a bit slimmer, with a width of 20 inches. 

The 435 economy class seats -- 58 seats on the upper deck, 377 seats below -- have a 32-inch pitch and are 18 inches wide. 

All A380 passengers have access to internet, Wi-Fi and mobile phone use.

More on CNN: Enjoying 'airplane food' at China's A380 theme restaurant  

A380 turns five

At a starting price of around US$300 million per plane, the A380 is primarily used to service airlines' most popular routes.

Singapore Airlines was the first to fly the A380, in October of 2007. Emirates and Qantas followed in 2008, Air France in 2009, Lufthansa in 2010 and Korean Air and China Southern in 2011. Malaysia Airlines put its first A380 into service in July 2012.  

Airlines awaiting delivery of A380s are British Airways, Asiana, Etihad, Hong Kong Airlines, Kingfisher, Qatar Airways, Skymark, Transaero and Virgin Atlantic.  

Last month, Singapore Air picked up its nineteenth and final Airbus 380, with news reports saying the airline plans to focus more on regional routes and smaller aircraft in line with decreasing passenger numbers and increasing competition.

More on CNN: Malaysia Airlines launches kid-free economy zone

Echoing Singapore Air's concerns, Thai Airways has publicly acknowledged that the company's biggest economic threats are from airlines based in the Middle East and regional low-cost carriers.

During a press conference held to mark the delivery of its first A380, Captain Montree Jumrieng, executive vice president of Thai Airways technical team, cited the Gulf carriers' strategy of offering one-stop flights via the Middle East to anywhere in the world as a main source of competition.

Are you a fan of the A380? Is Boeing's 747-8 more to your liking? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.