LONDON – Thai low-cost carrier Nok Air will supports flights between ‘Korat’, the colloquial name of Nakhon Ratchasima, and the country’s capital, Bangkok.
The move will significantly improve the air network after services linking the northern city of Thailand ceased.
From local news source thethaiger.com, Wuttipoom Churankun Chief Executive Officer of Nok Air stated that the new air service connecting the country’s capital to Korat would commence after the Thai New Year or the Songkran festival, held every April.
Second time lucky?
Nakhon Ratchasima has been in the sights of Nok Air for several years, as this city has not been served by any airlines for decades.
In fact, Nok Air flew from Nakhon Ratchasima to Chiang Mai with its Dash 8 turboprops. However, six weeks after its launch in mid-2022, the airline pulled the plug, citing a lack of demand.
Just to give a perspective of Korat (NAK) relative to Bangkok (DMK) and Chiang Mai (CNX); Chiang Mai is further to Korat than it is to Bangkok.
Meaning that the assumed propensity to fly between Chiang Mai and Korat is high due to the lack of other modes of transportation between the two cities.
This would cater specifically for business travellers. On the other hand, it is not wrong to doubt the viability of the route between Bangkok and Korat, as the distance between the two cities is only 135 miles which is a 3 hours drive.
The demand for car travel will overlap with air travel, questioning the economical viability of this route.
Supply or demand issues?
As has been mentioned, the airline discontinued the Chiang Mai to Korat route citing ‘demand’ issues, with thethaiger.com previously reporting a flight where Nok Air had only nine passengers.
The airline later cited that its fleet of Dash 8 aircraft need repairs and the airline has 3 of them flying. This dilemma of ‘the chicken or the egg’ will be answered a couple of weeks after the launch.
The airline plans to fly the route in April of this year but is yet to be approved by the airport’s operator – the 1st Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Wing, an air force base.
The airline’s top person claims that they are ready to relaunch the Chiang Mai – Korat in time for the next high season. According to thethaiger.com, the airline will also be procuring 6 new aircraft.
Nok Air and its operations
Nok Air primarily operates routes within Thailand, and a handful of international ones, to Ho Chi Minh, and the recently launched service to Hyderabad.
In other airports around Thailand, the check-in desk closes 45 minutes before departure, however, for the new Korat route, this rule is exempted as there are no other airlines operating from Korat.
Passengers travelling to Bangkok Don Mueang Airport can arrive very close to the departure time at Korat and conveniently fly to Bangkok.
The airline hasn’t set out any pricing strategy yet as they are in negotiating rounds with hotels and local businesses for joint promotions and sales opportunities.