Tuesday, September 2, 2014

CoachFlyer: THAI retires the Airbus A300 - Part II.

Continued from CoachFlyer: THAI retires the Airbus A300 - Part I.

On July 31st, Thai Airways International (TG/THA), or simply THAI, officially retired the Airbus A300 from service, ending over 36 years of operations. The final flight was TG045, service from Khon Kaen (KKC/VTUK) to Bangkok/Suvarnabhumi (BKK/VTBS), which was operated by their ultimate aircraft A300B4-622R HS-TAZ Srisubhan.
Airbus A300B4-622R HS-TAZ Srisubhan at Khon Kaen on the last day before her final flight back to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi as TG045. (Photo: THAI)

THAI's first of the type was A300B4-103 HS-TGH Srimuang, which was delivered on October 25th 1977 and introduced a few weeks later, while the first of the modernized 'A300-600' series was delivered on September 26th, 1985 with A300B4-601 HS-TAA Suwannaphum.
Airbus A300B4-622R HS-TAW Suranaree rotates from Khon Kaen in February 2014. She was decommissioned on May 31st. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

The flag carrier acquired a total of 33 A300s (C4-203 x1, B4-103 x7, B4-203 x4, B4-601 x6, B4-605R x2, B4-622R x13) directly from the European manufacturer, forming the backbone of the regional fleet serving trunk intra-Asian routes, and briefly leased two others as well. It covered the Middle East to the west and Japan to the east.
Airbus A300B4-622R HS-TAZ Srisubhan receives the traditional water-cannon salute. (Photo: THAI)

However, since the introduction of the Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s as well as the transferring of more regional routes to Nok Air (DD/NOK) and Thai Smile Airways (WE/THD), their roles have gradually been relegated and by July 2014 the type served just four destinations; Chiang Mai (CNX/VTCC), Hanoi/Noi Bai (HAN/VVNB), Khon Kaen, and Krabi (KBV/VTSG).

Crews of the Airbus A300 disembark HS-TAZ Srisubhan. (Photo: THAI)

The final flight from Hanoi was operated on July 30th as TG565, while the morning of July 31st saw the type leaving Chiang Mai and Krabi for the last time as TG123 and TG242, respectively, leaving the flight to and from Khon Kaen to be the last.
The men who piloted THAI's Airbus A300s. (Photo: THAI)
By July, its fleet of A300s had also been reduced to just the ultimate three; HS-TAX Thepsatri, HS-TAY Srisoonthorn, and HS-TAZ Srisubhan. HS-TAT Srimuang flew its last revenue flight on June 30th as TG047 Khon Kaen – Suvarnabhumi and HS-TAW Suranaree on May 31st as TG557 Ho Chi Minh/Tan Son Nhat (SGN/VVTS) – Suvarnabhumi. HS-TAX was retired after TG047 Khon Kaen – Suvarnabhumi on July 19th and HS-TAY on July 30th as TG047 as well.
Airbus A300B4-622R HS-TAT Srimuang also participated in the ceremony. (Photo: THAI)

At Khon Kaen on the last day, enthusiasts took advantage of photo opportunities as the aircraft was parked away from the jet-bridge and boarding took place from the apron, which was done for the last flight. The aircraft departed the northeastern transport hub 30 minutes behind schedule at 1255 and took off from Runway 21. It touched down at Suvarnabhumi's Runway 19L after a flawless flight at 1355.
Farewell messages on the aircraft. (Photo: THAI)

Upon arrival at a remote parking spot, passengers disembarked via the airstairs to be greeted by a flock of THAI A300 pilots who were waiting for the arrival. After all customers had deplaned, staff and all of the A300 team boarded the aircraft for a taxi to the airline's hangar on the east side of the airport for the retirement ceremony.
Door closed for the last A300 HS-TAZ Srisubhan. The moment the AB6 became a legend. (Photo: THAI)

As it moved on its own power, it received a water-cannon salute moments before coming to a stop where two sisters were waiting; HS-TAW Suranaree and HS-TAX Thepsatri. The door was opened and all the A300 crew started disembarking the aircraft, beginning the 'closing door ceremony'. After all had deplaned, the L1 door was closed and a ribbon was placed on it. Everyone at the site signed the airplane.
Farwell THAI Airbus A300. (Photo: THAI)

A farewell ceremony took place in the hangars with THAI employees as well as THAI Fan Club members participating. You will be missed, goodbye THAI AB6: The Legend of the Sky.

Reference: Thai Airways International @ Facebook.

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