Published on November 20, 2007
The airline began its Bangalore run amid much fanfare. Although the airline says the route has been very successful, it is nonetheless cancelling it temporarily.
CEO Patee Sarasin said in a statement that several considerations had forced the company to reconsider its international operations, resulting in the suspension of this route despite a steadily increasing passenger-load factor.
Those considerations include an unexpected shortage of aircraft, increasing need for additional human resources and constant rises in the cost of jet fuel.
Patee said Nok Air always conducted extensive research before launching a route, whether international or domestic, in order to make sure it afforded the company a strategic advantage, strengthened its network and matched its revenue-generation plan. "There is absolutely no question Nok Air will continue to develop our network further, both domestically and internationally, to meet our overall business plan," said Patee.
He said to achieve and go beyond company expectations, as well as those of the passengers, Nok Air needed more aircraft and more human resources.
Nok Air has added another two leased aeroplanes and is in negotiations for additional aircraft.
The Economic Times reported Nok Air's passenger-load factor had fallen to 40 per cent.
"In India, international low-cost carriers take more time to turn a profit, but they withdraw their operations soon. Also, the return-fare difference - including taxes - between Nok Air and full-service carriers like Thai Airways is about 3,000-4,000 rupees [Bt2,600 to Bt3,400]. So Indian passengers prefer a full-service carrier to paying for food and blankets on Nok Air."
All passengers who have booked seats on the route for after this Friday will be transferred to Thai Airways.
Nok Air has not yet launched additional international routes as planned. It is set to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Macau or Hong Kong, Madras, New Delhi and Hyderabad.
The airline will take delivery of four new aeroplanes this year and eight more next year.
Another low-cost carrier, Jetstar Asia, withdrew its five flights per week on the Bangalore-Singapore route, citing low passenger numbers.
Several low-cost airlines, such as AirAsia, are considering revising their pricing policy to use one price that includes airfare, fuel surcharge, insurance and other fees, instead of charging all of these separately, like at present.
Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld said this would afford travellers greater convenience when making reservations.
"We've been monitoring the uncertain jet-oil prices," said Tassapon, adding that nothing had been decided yet.
Thai AirAsia has been offering one-price ticket sales through its website for certain domestic routes on a trial basis.
One-Two-Go has also been testing one-price ticket sales with all-inclusive Bt1,850 fares between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Nakhon Si Thammarat. The offer will be effective from December 1.
Suchat Sritama The Nation