July 11, 2018 / 6:45 AM / 7 days ago

UPDATE 2-Thai Airways to buy 23 new jets worth around $3 bln

* Purchase is part of 5-year plan from 2018-2023 - minister

* Purchase subject to cabinet approval (Adds executive comment in the third paragraph)

BANGKOK, July 11 (Reuters) - Thai Airways International Pcl plans to purchase 23 new aircraft worth about 100 billion baht ($3 billion) to replace decommissioned ones, the country’s transport minister told reporters on Wednesday.

The purchase, subject to cabinet approval expected later this year, was part of the state-owned national carrier’s five-year plan from 2018-2023, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.

Thai Airways expects to make an order of 13 widebody aircraft and 10 narrowbody aircraft within this year, the airline’s acting president, Usanee Sangsingkeo, told reporters.

Research firm Centre for Aviation reported in June that Thai Airways was likely to order 20 jets soon, including A320neos for regional arm Thai Smile and new-generation widebody aircraft for the parent airline.

New-generation widebody options include Boeing Co 787s and Airbus SE A350s and A330neos.

The announcement comes at a time of transition and new leadership for the airliner, which is in the final phase of a reconstruction plan that began in 2015 aimed at restoring profitability.

Thai Airways reported a net loss in 2017 and a 14 percent fall in net profit for January-March.

On Tuesday, a new chairman was appointed while a new chief executive will take the helm later this year.

Last month, the carrier also expanded its maintenance, repair and overhaul service business through partnerships with Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

$1 = 33.2600 baht Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates

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