Nok Air, based at Bangkok Don Mueang Airport, is planning to establish a base at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country’s main international gateway. The move is aimed at reducing the airline’s reliance on domestic passenger traffic, according to CEO Wutthiphum Jurangkool. The new base is expected to launch in the second half of 2024 with one or two aircraft initially. Nok Air intends to leverage its cooperation with minority shareholder Thai Airways International to transport the flag carrier’s passengers on domestic routes from Suvarnabhumi. The airline is also considering upgrading its interline partnership with Thai Airways to a codeshare in the future.
Nok Air believes that, even with the integration of its domestic and short-haul subsidiary Thai Smile, there is a need for more aircraft to serve the Thai domestic market. Currently, Nok Air operates a fleet of twenty Airbus A320-200s, which are also used for regional international markets. However, only 57.9% of Thai’s A320 capacity is deployed on domestic routes. Thai Airways previously operated widebody aircraft on trunk domestic routes, but they have not been reintroduced since the pandemic.
Thai Airways’ stake in Nok Air has been reduced to 13.28% from a previous 49% in 2011. The majority ownership of the low-cost carrier lies with the Jurangkool family, who hold a 74.96% share.
Although Nok Air plans to expand its network from Suvarnabhumi, it will also continue to grow from Don Mueang Airport, focusing on international routes to regional destinations such as India and China.
In order to support its growth plans, Nok Air intends to add three Boeing 737-800s to its current fleet of fourteen aircraft. The airline had previously planned to add eight 737-800s in 2024.
Nok Air canceled its direct order for six Boeing 737-8s in 2021 but is considering leasing the type from 2025 onwards. CEO Wutthiphum stated that the airline will carefully evaluate its decision given the ongoing quality issues surrounding the 737 MAX and will gauge passenger confidence in the aircraft before proceeding.
As part of its restructuring efforts, Nok Air is seeking capital raises. CEO Wutthiphum stated that the airline will request an additional THB600 million baht (USD16.8 million) from its shareholders in 2024.
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