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Nok Air restores flights to newly opened Betong Airport


Nok Air will begin flying again from Bangkok to Betong Airport in Yala province on April 29, according to the Betong Tourism Association.

The move comes after the airline suspended flights to Betong on March 16, just two days after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha arrived on the first commercial flight to open the airport.

Nok Air cited a lack of demand for cancelling the service from Bangkok’s Don Mueang to the newly opened airport, adding that only three of 86 seats were booked.

On Saturday, Betong Tourism Association vice president Narin Ruangwongsa said the airline will operate flights three days per week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

He added that the price of a round-trip ticket has been reduced from 6,300 baht to 5,300 baht thanks to a 1,000-baht subsidy from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

"After confirmation that Nok Air will operate flights from Don Mueang to Betong from April 29, tour operators are now preparing programmes to attract tourists [to Yala]," he said.

One programme will see tourists fly from Bangkok to Hat Yai Airport on April 27 before taking return flights from Betong, a two-hour drive away, on April 29.

However, Nok Air said tour operators must guarantee that 60 of 86 seats are booked on each flight.

Nok Air restores flights to newly opened Betong Airport

Narin added that the association would contact Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn over the possibility of establishing flights to Betong from Indonesia and Malaysia under an economic triangle project.

He added that both Indonesia and Malaysia have small aircraft that can land at Betong. The newly opened airport has a 1,800-metre runway suitable for turboprop aircraft, such as ATR-72s.

"If this plan is possible, it will help increase the number of passengers visiting Betong International Airport," Narin said.

Separately, Tourism Council of Songkhla president Sompol Cheewawattanapong said Hat Yai Airport will receive many international flights in April.

AirAsia will operate Kuala Lumpur-Hat Yai flights three times per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from April 13, while Scoot will launch a Singapore-Hat Yai service thrice weekly (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) on April 25.

"Tourists from Malaysia and Singapore will gradually return to Songkhla within three months," he said.

Sompol expressed confidence that tourism in the southern province would recover by July.

Published : April 10, 2022

By : THE NATION