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Suvarnabhumi » Nok Air starts early at new airport but opts out on big day

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Nok Airlines, the budget carrier affiliated with Thai Airways International (THAI), will suspend all flights on Sept 28, partly to avoid possible chaos that could emerge from the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The suspension, which will affect 30 flights and 5,000 travellers, will also allow the airline to take stock of problems that could emerge over the previous two days when Nok Air starts early operations ahead of the airport’s opening date.

The decision to ground all of its four aircraft for one day was not made out of any concern about the safety or readiness of Suvarnabhumi Airport but rather to head off inconveniences Nok Air passengers may face, according to Sehapan Chumsai, executive vice-president for marketing.

All of Nok Air’s aircraft from the provinces will start landing at Bangkok’s new airport on the evening of Sept 26.

All flights will then take off and land at Suvarnabhumi all day on Sept 27, before taking a break the following day.

The airline will resume its regular service from Suvarnabhumi on Sept 29.

“We thought it prudent to take a break on Sept 28 to see what may have gone wrong on the previous two days and find solutions to ensure smooth operations upon the resumption of flights in the following days,” Mr Sehapan said.

“Of course there will be problems and nothing will be perfect. It’s like moving to a new house and you cannot find things around it,” he said.

The Nok Air executive believes that the 125-billion-baht airport can be up and running on Sept 28, though some teething problems may occur.

All of the nearly 90 international airlines serving Thailand will be moved from Bangkok International Airport (Don Muang) to a new home in the wee small hours of Sept 28 before taking off from the new base in the morning.

Nok Air is among a handful of carriers that will operate through Suvarnabhumi ahead of Sept 28.

THAI will start operating three domestic routes from the new base on Sept 15.

Jetstar Asia of Singapore will also begin on Sept 15 while Thai AirAsia will start its services on Sept 24.

Mr Sehapan said Nok Air passengers had been informed about the plan and reservations were changed accordingly.

Nok Air will introduce two new routes – Bangkok-Krabi and Bangkok-Surat Thani – on Oct 29 at frequencies of 14 and 21 flights a week respectively.

The launch coincides with the entry of two additional aircraft to its fleet, bringing its total to six.

By then, Nok Air will have increased the number of its flights to 60 a day from 40 at present. One of its aircraft is undergoing maintenance, thereby reducing its flights to 30.

Meanwhile, Nok Air has postponed the launch of its first overseas route – from Bangkok to Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India – to January or February from October as planned earlier, as airport authorities in Bangalore have not been able to assign a flight slot time, according to Mr Sehapan.  (Bkk Post)

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