Thai Airways International joins the Dreamliner club in Auckland tomorrow, with its new Boeing 787-9 flying in from Bangkok.

The airline is also stepping up to daily flights from five times a week, adding about 65,000 seats to the route.

Thai's aircraft has 298 seats - 30 in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration and 268 in economy arranged 3-3-3. The new aircraft replaces a 777-200ER on the route.

Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial, has said the announcement was great news for New Zealand and would inject $53 million annually into the New Zealand economy.


"Thailand is a popular holiday destination for Kiwis, with more than 46,000 New Zealanders travelling there during the past year, with the majority of travellers being holiday makers."

The additional flights would also provide further travel options for visitors from Britain, Europe, India and southeast Asia who travel through Thai Airways' hub in Bangkok.

"Thai Airways last increased their frequency in flights in March 2016 and that resulted in an additional 30,000 seats on the route at the time. It's impressive to see a route grow so quickly and an additional 65,000 seats now being added," said Tasker.

Thai - 51 per cent owned by the Thai government - has had six 787-8s in its fleet since 2014 but the later model is longer by six metres allowing for more passengers and cargo.

Dreamliners entered commercial service in 2011 and airlines using them through Auckland Airport include Air New Zealand, LATAM and American Airlines. The aircraft are about 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the planes they replace.

The airline released results this week which showed it swung to an operating profit of 739 million baht (NZ$32.33 million) for the third quarter ended September 30, from a 836m baht loss a year ago.

Revenue rose 6.3 per cent to 46.9 billion baht as it boosted capacity and filled a higher percentage of seats, but reported a 7.5 per cent decline in average fares.

Due to impairments on older aircraft and foreign currency exchange losses, Thai Airways reported a net loss of 1.8b baht for the quarter, wider than the 1.6b baht net loss a year ago.


The airline said competition was likely to intensify as new routes were opened and the industry faced shortages of trained pilots, flight attendants, engineers and technicians.

The Auckland route is part of an expansion which includes more flights from Bangkok to Brussels and Oslo and Auckland, and expanding the southeast Asian routes flown by its budget carrier, Thai Smile.