Want to fly a Boeing? Thai Airways opens its simulators to public

BANGKOK: Thai Airways International Pcl is opening up its Airbus SE and Boeing Co flight simulators to the public, seeking a fresh revenue source amid the travel slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Customers can get into a mock cockpit of an Airbus A380, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 737-400 starting next month, said the flagship carrier, which is coping with a debt restructuring under bankruptcy court. Prices start at US$381 for two people for half an hour.

The 60-year-old carrier is facing one of its biggest challenges as travel restrictions pummel Thailand’s tourism industry. The company is restructuring about 350 billion baht (US$11.1 billion) of debt after receiving court approval on Sept 14.

The carrier earlier this month transformed its cafeteria into an airline-themed eatery complete with plane seats and trays, as well as spare parts made into tables and furniture. Cabin-crew volunteers, many of whom have not worked for months since the lockdown, are serving customers.

Thai Air joins carriers including Qantas Airways Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd in turning to innovative ways to generate fresh revenue streams amid the slump.

Thailand’s economy, reliant on tourism and trade, is set to contract 7.8% this year. The Bank of Thailand expects the nation to receive 6.7 million foreign tourists in 2020, down from last year’s almost 40 million international visitors who generated as much as US$62 billion in revenue.