Celebrating 50 years of flights between Australia and Thailand

Thursday, 01 April 2021


THAI’s History in Australia


On the first of April 1971, THAI’s inaugural intercontinental route to Australia was launched with a weekly flight from Bangkok via Singapore to Sydney.  A Douglas DC-8-62 aircraft – at the time, the world’s most advanced long-range jetliner – operated every Friday from Sydney to Bangkok.


In 1979, non-stop flights to Europe were launched thanks to the capacity of Boeing’s 747-200 Jumbo Jets.


THAI’s second Australian city was established with flights to Melbourne in 1980 – 2 flights a week linked with Sydney and using a Douglas DC-10 aircraft; in 1982 a weekly flight was launched to Brisbane, also linked with Sydney.


THAI’s Royal Executive Class was introduced in 1983 to set a new standard in inflight business class service.


Australia’s first Jumbo Jet aircraft arrived in 1984 to replace the DC-10 aircraft on the Sydney/Brisbane to Bangkok route and in 1985, a weekly flight to Perth was added with seats leased to Qantas.


In 1993, THAI’s premier frequent flyer programme, Royal Orchid Plus, was successfully launched.  Australia now has the highest membership outside Thailand.


By 2011, THAI is operating 46 flights a week between Australia and Thailand, flying to 4 online cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.


Fast-forward to March 2020 and THAI’s network between Australia and Thailand and worldwide is shutdown as the global Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the globe.


THAI’s workforce in Australia is on stand-down until commercial, scheduled flights resume with a skeleton team maintaining general enquiries and customer assistance plus Airport/Cargo operations.



THAI’s Company History


In May 2021, Thai Airways International reaches the 61st anniversary of its foundation as the national airline of the Kingdom of Thailand. During its history, THAI has projected the flag and prestige of the nation, as a flying ambassador across the world. It has played a vital role in the development of Thailand’s dynamic economy, promoting tourism and trade worldwide and making a major contribution to the commercial and social welfare of the nation. It also helped to establish Bangkok as the leading aviation hub of Southeast Asia.


In May 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide network shutdown, the Company files for business rehabilitation in the Central Bankruptcy Court of Thailand, a process that is ongoing and yet to be finalised.  In co-operation with Government authorities, repatriation and semi-commercial flights continue to operate.


Inaugural Flight : 01 May 1960


On the morning of 01 May, 1960, THAI’s first flight, a Douglas DC-6B aircraft, took off from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport with a full complement of 60 passengers bound for Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo.


Initially, THAI concentrated on regional services from Bangkok to just nine Asian cities. During these early years, THAI opened up such exotic destinations as Bali and Kathmandu for tourism and was the first all-jet airline in Asia with a fleet of Caravelle SE-210 aircraft. It has been a pioneer in many aspects of route and destination development.


Throughout its history THAI, as the national carrier, assumed a major responsibility in developing and expanding the potential for tourism.  In 1960, tourism was only just beginning to be a significant contributor to Asian economies. Less than 200,000 international travellers visited Thailand that year. In recent years, over 14 million tourists arrived annually and tourism became the country’s most valuable source of foreign exchange income.


Unique Hospitality


The popularity of THAI among its passengers over the years has been due to many factors, particularly its emphasis on “Thainess”. The airline’s vision has always been to create an atmosphere and standard of service on its flights that reflect the traditional Thai values of hospitality, with a warm welcome extended to its flying guests. Royal Orchid Service commences with the gracious ‘wai’ gesture of greeting by cabin crew dressed in unique uniforms of vivid Thai silk.




THAI has received countless international awards throughout its history and regularly appears among the top ten in research carried out by leading travel magazines and internet sites. The most recent of these accolades have included “Best Southeast Asian Airline” by Global Traveler and TTG Asia magazines, and voted amongst the top ten world airlines by Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Business Traveler Asia-Pacific, Skytrax and SmartTravelAsia.com.


Royal Orchid Plus Frequent Flyer Programme


THAI’s award-winning frequent flyer programme, Royal Orchid Plus gives passengers the opportunity to earn generous miles, to be redeemed for exciting awards, not only for travel on THAI but also on all other Star Alliance carriers.  Australia has the highest active membership of ROP members (outside Thailand).


Star Alliance


In 1997, THAI was one of the five founding members of Star Alliance, which has since become the world’s largest and strongest global airline network.


THAI looks forward to re-commencing scheduled flights to/from Australia and across the world when international travel resumes.  We look forward to the opportunity to serve our customers once again with our unique style of hospitality and service.


Customer Enquiries in Australia, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm :

THAI Australia : 1300 651 960


Celebrating 61 Years 1960-2021



Milestones over 60 years

Milestones over 60 years 










Download a keepsake flyer here