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Nok Air To Add Jets, Expand Thai Routes


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Nok Air to add jets, expand Thai routes

BANGKOK: -- Having recuperated from its financial woes, the no-frills carrier Nok Air is resuming its cautious growth plans with the addition of two jetliners and an expanding network.

Sehapan: ‘‘We have learned our lessons.’’

The airline is negotiating with a few aircraft leasing firms for two Boeing 737-400s to join its fleet of three similar jetliners leased from its parent company, Thai Airways International (THAI).

The two additional twin-jet narrow body aircraft are expected to commence service for Nok Air before mid-year, allowing the airline to expand its domestic network, according to Nok executive vice-president Sehapan Chumsai.

Nok Air is pondering three options including raising frequencies on its existing routes, reviving dropped routes or introducing new ones like Chiang Rai.

The airline reckoned that three jets were insufficient to cope with domestic traffic demand.

Mr Sehapan described Nok Air's resumption of Bangkok-Phuket flights on Feb 20, after a suspension since September last year as part of its corporate rehabilitation, as heralding a revival of growth for Nok Air. Phuket was the sixth destination for Nok Air after Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang and Udon Thani.

A fleet of five Boeing 737-400s was regarded as the optimum size before it underwent a rehabilitation after recording cumulative losses of more than 200 million baht.

The airline was hard hit by the global turmoil, which sunk air travel demand and worsened the effect of spiking oil prices, while its own over-expansion contributed to financial woes.

Last year, it downsized by shedding nearly half its workforce of 1,000, halved its Boeing 737 jet fleet to three, terminated all overseas routes, slashed flights by half and cut salaries.

Like a phoenix, Nok Air returned to the black starting in October and earned 82 million baht in the final quarter of last year.

With an improving balancing sheet, the budget carrier now expects to clear its cumulative loss in June of this year.

"We have learned our lessons. Whatever step we take must be precise and produce yields," Mr Sehapan noted.

Domestic air travel demand has not been slowing as widely feared. "There is still some growth, probably 5%, and we can make a profit out of it."

Nok Air expects to carry two million passengers this year due to substantial capacity cutbacks, down from 2.5 million last year, with an average load factor of 80%, up from 75% in 2008.

The existing staff of 120 cabin attendants and 55 cockpit staff is meant to handle a five-aircraft fleet, he stated, adding that last year's downsizing was based on the assumption that the airline was to operate five jetliners, each spending eight hours a day in the air.

-- Bangkok Post 2009-02-25

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Should never have dropped Phuket.

indeed. and now, after the high-season is over, they start flying to Phuket again :o

by the way, I wonder how their customers can accept the fact that NOK is still charging the same fuel surcharges as if the Kerosene is 170+ $. it's less than 50 now...... a rip-off (Cebu pacific does the same, but thats another story.....)

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Bad management decisions (stop the Phuket flights, no decrease in fuel surcharge, not moving back to Swampy)

I flew them a few times, mostly Nok Plus for the 30kgs baggage allowance, but booked 10 cheap Air Asia flights recently.

On a return flight from Europe I plan to book Thai business class at 800B more than Nok Air, 2.5 hours in between flights as compared to 5.5h with NOK with a taxi to DM.

Could have saved 2500B on Air Asia but with a 9h wait at Swampy, no thanks.

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I for one don't understand their logic. They had one flight a week from Loei. You had to reserve way in advance to get a seat. They added a second flight and it was still advisable to reserve you seat in advance. One day they decided they would no longer service Loei. They didn't cut one flight, they cut both flights. The explanation was that they needed to add planes for the Udon Thani route. Udon Thani has several different airlines for service.

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ThaiAirAsia & IndoAirAsia have lots of 737-300 (slightly older than 737-400) to get rid of. I am sure NokAir can have it on the cheap.

MalayAirAsia has gone 100% new (not 2nd hand) A320. ThaiAirAsia & IndoAirAsia are busy upgrading to all A320 fleet.

Edited by samgrowth
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i thought Loei airport was closed for some works at some stage??

Agree about Khon Kaen, not sure why Air Asia don't pop a daily flight into there

They used to, and the flights were usually pretty full so I can't understand their reasons for dropping the route.

What I miss the most is the Tiger Air flights from Singapore to Udon Thani, they were usually full as well but were dropped as apparently the needed extra flights to cater for the growing Indian market.

So simple and cheap: avoided Bangkok altogether.

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