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Thai Airways International
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History

On 1st of May 1960, at a time charted carefully by astrologers as being the most auspicious, a fully loaded Douglas DC-6B took off from Bangkok‘s Don Muang Airport bound for Hong Kong, the start of a brave new venture called Thai Airways International.

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The appearance of these Thai International planes on the runway at Don Muang was a significant event, but aviation as such already had a long history in Thailand.

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Back in 1911, only eight years after Wilbur and Orville Wright made their legendary flight in a 'heavier than air craft', the first Demonstration flights were seen in Bangkok and three Thai officers of the army aviation corps were subsequently sent abroad to leam not only how to fly planes, but also how to build them. A year later they retuned to Thailand and an army airfield was established at Don Muang.

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In 1922, the Royal Aeronautical Service of Thailand started the first regular airmail service in Southeast Asia, flying between Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani. By 1930 the Aerial Transport Company of Siam was formed.

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The 8,300 passengers it carried in the first year has grown to eight million annually.

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After World War II, air travel entered a period of massive development in Asia, and Thailand was at the forefront. The Aerial Transport Company of Siam had evolved into the Siam Airways Company. In 1947, Pacific Overseas Airlines (POAS) was formed by combined Thai and American interests. Two years later, POAS and Siam Airways joined to become Thai Airways Company Limited (TAC), offering scheduled flights within the region by Lockheed Super Constellations.

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The young company suffered from a lack of technical and management expertise, so in 1959 TAC invited the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) to become a minority shareholder in a joint venture. The Scandinavians went on to provide technical expertise, develop international marketing strategies, lease aircraft and assist in training THAI staff, so that eventually Thai Airways could assume responsibility for its own airline.

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During the early 1960s the airline flew to nine overseas destinations within Asia. Thai’s management policy toward its passengers was simple - to create standards of service so outstanding that the carrier would establish its reputation worldwide without the need for advertising.

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Soon after Thai Intemational's launch in May 1960, word spread. In its first year THAI carried 8,300 passengers, and by 1964, the annual total had reached 100‘000. In 1966 the airline became the first all-jet Asian regional airline, operating Caravelle SE210s. In August 1967, the airline carried its millionth passenger.

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With profits topping US$ 1 million by the end of the decade, the airline was ready to look further a field. In 1971, THAI made its first intercontinental flight, to Sydney, and the next year it started flying to Copenhagen. Flights were then added to London, Frankfurt, Rome, Paris and Athens in the following years.

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The acquisition of each new plane in Thai’s fleet was a matter of national pride, accompanied by ceremonial rites. The Supreme Patriarch, head of Thailand's Buddhist community, has personally blessed many of THAI's aircraft, anointing the nose cone, cockpit, entrances and exits with lustral water, bestowing good fortune on the plane.

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In 1975 the airline became fully Thai-owned, with the mutually beneficial SAS agreement being reduced from a shareholding to a cooperation Arrangement. Since the airline's first flight, a name has also been bestowed on each plane by His Majesty King Bhunübol Adulyadej.

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In 1979 THAI acquired its first Boeing 747 jumbo jets, a milestone in the airline's plan to expand its intercontinental services. In 1988 Thai Airways Company merged with THAI to provide an improved domestic service. Since then domestic air traffic has grown by over 50 per cent, with the airline serving 24 key destinations within the Kingdom.

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Thai International has come a long way since 1960. The 8,300 passengers it carried in that first year have grown to over eight million annually, and its present fleet of 61 aircraft flies to over 70 destinations in 36 countries on four continents.  New routes are constantly being added, and the company's staff has increased from 477 in 1960 to over 20,000, rnaking the airline one of the la corporate employers in Thailand.

Geschichte

 


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last update 16. January 2013

written 14. April 2006

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