Fri, August 12, 2022

business

Nok Air warns of halting Betong flights without government aid


Budget airline Nok Air will discontinue its Bangkok-Betong flights at the end of October unless it gets additional state assistance to help offset heavy losses, its chief executive Wutthiphum Jurangkool said on Thursday.

Nok Air is the only airline that flies to Betong Airport, which opened for commercial flights in mid-March.

The airline offers a daily flight between Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport and the country’s southernmost airport in the border province of Yala.

The Nok Air CEO said on Thursday that over the past three months of services, it has accumulated operating losses of THB15-20 million.

He said its collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, tour companies and relevant state agencies in a promotional campaign, which has helped offset part of the losses, would end in late July.

Earlier, Nok Air reported that its Betong route had recorded a loss of about THB40 million during its three months of operation, making the airline hesitant about extending the service over the long run.

Wutthiphum said on Thursday that the Betong Airport had offered a THB9,000 cut in office rent for Nok Air, as well as a reduction in the landing fee. “That’s just part of our request for assistance from the state,” he added.

“We will try to continue our flights for six months [until the end of October]. If there’s no additional help, we will have to stop flying in November,” the CEO said.

He said that price increase in air fares was not a viable option as tourists have many other alternatives, including travels to neighbouring countries.

The Nok Air CEO called on the government to encourage more investment in Betong, as well as improvements of tourism infrastructure in the area. This would bring in more visitors and business travellers, he added.

Wutthiphum also called for connecting flights between Betong and airports in Malaysia and Singapore to attract more tourists from those countries.

“The private sector wants clear government measures to help stimulate tourism in Betong district in the long term,” he said.

Published : June 09, 2022