NokScoot aims to soar as red flag falls

NokScoot aims to more than double its passenger volume next year to over 2 million as its expansion plans move full steam ahead.

Chokchai Panyayong, chairman of the medium- to long-haul low-cost carrier, yesterday unveiled the target as the UN aviation watchdog recently removed its red flag on the Thai civil aviation regime.

NokScoot, a joint venture between Thailand’s Nok Air and Singapore’s Scoot, will now aggressively pursue expansion of its fleet and route network.

The plans include adding more aircraft in the next six months and new routes from its base at Don Mueang airport to destinations in China, India, Japan and South Korea, said Mr Chokchai.

NokScoot’s ex- pansion plans, especially to Japan and South Korea, had been foiled for over two years due to restrictions imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization against Thai- land over “signi-ficant safety concerns”.

The red flag issuance resulted in international flights of Thai-registered airlines being restricted, if not banned, in several countries, including Japan, South Korea and China, particularly for operating new routes.

NokScoot’s expansion efforts will begin with the induction of its fourth Boeing B777-200 aircraft later this month.

The arrival of the widebody jet from Scoot will allow NokScoot to have increased frequencies on existing routes to Tianjin, Tsingtao and Shenyang, as well as launch a new route to Xian, China.

Plans for the first quarter of 2018 include the induction of at least one more B777-200 and, subject to regulatory approval, launches of new services to Narita and Incheon, said Mr Chokchai, also acting chief executive of the airline.

If the expansion proceeds as planned, the number of passengers the airline carries next year is expected to grow more than 100% over that of 2017’s expected level of 1.1 million, he said.

NokScoot Airlines started scheduled flight services in May 2015, and currently operates services to six destinations: Nanjing, Qingdao, Dalian, Tianjin and Shenyang in China, and Taipei in Taiwan.

The airline expects to see its bottom line improve because of the lifting of the red flag.

The carrier narrowed its loss in the first half by 48.9% year-on-year while raising revenue by 43.5%.

It posted a net loss of 118 million baht over that period, down from the 230 million-baht-loss incurred in the first half of last year.

First-half revenue was 2.63 billion baht, up from 1.83 billion year-on-year, according to a statement from the low-cost carrier.

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