Thailand’s Nok Air and its long-haul associate, NokScoot, will focus on expanding services to China for the remainder of 2016, according to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s recent analysis.
CAPA said Nok Air plans to commence scheduled services to China this June, while NokScoot plans to expand its network, later this year, beyond its current four Chinese destinations.
“Nok has traditionally focused almost entirely on the domestic market – which accounted for 91% of its passenger traffic in 2015 – but it is now trying to diversify by expanding internationally, with an initial focus on China.”
Nok Air CEO, Patee Sarasin, was quoted by CAPA saying scheduled flights to China are expected to begin this June. It will serve Kunming, Nanning and Quanzhou from Bangkok, and Chengdu from Phuket.
Nok Air has served Nanning with three weekly charter flights since last March, while Chengdu has been served with a single daily charter flight since July last year. Kunming and Quanzhou will be new destinations and served daily, while the Chengdu and Nanning services will be upgraded to scheduled flights, ending the limited charter status.
“Nok’s initial four routes will give the LCC slightly more than a 2% share of seat capacity between China and Thailand. Even including NokScoot, the group has a relatively modest 6% share,” the centre said.
NokScoot currently operates 18 weekly flights to China from its Bangkok hub, including six to Nanjing, five to Qingdao, four to Tianjin and three to Shenyang. NokScoot operates 777-200s with 415 seats in a two-class configuration (391 economy and 24 business), while Nok uses 189-seat all economy 737-800s.
The airline is now seeking board approval to add two 777-200s, which would be used to expand services to China.
Patee was also quoted saying: “China expansion is an immediate priority for Nok Air after resolving the pilot shortage. Danang and potential new routes to Myanmar are still in the business plan, but will likely not be added until 2017.”