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  • Flights to Betong Airport

    Nok Air resumes Bangkok-Betong Route

    If at first you don’t succeed, try again — with a few more friends. That’s the message from Thailand budget airline Nok Air, which is teaming up with a handful of tourism industry partners in a renewed bid to provide charter flights from Bangkok to the recently opened Betong airport in Yala province. Beginning on April 29, you’ll be able to book a flight as part of a tourism package from the capital to Thailand’s southernmost province.

    Not Air signed the agreement to offer the flights with three companies on Friday — Thai Tourism Promotion Assicoaition, CCT Group and Tangmo Tour Co — with support from the Betong airport, the Betong municipality, local businesses and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, who all want to see the flights renewed and domestic tourism increase in the region.

    The charter flight promotion will be offered from the end of April to the end of July. Some 60 seats per flight will be set aside for the tour companies, while the airline will be responsible for selling the rest of the seats directly to passengers. To promote their new flights, the partnering companies have launched marketing campaigns for travel packages, such as a 3 day, 2 night deal for 9,900 THB.

    Round-trip tickets from Bangkok to Betong currently cost 7,000 THB, according to the Bangkok Post. That’s 2,000 THB more than the Betong Tourism Association has earlier asked the airline to set the price at, in order for them to guarantee 60 percent flight capacity. And it’s still about a thousand baht more expensive than the roughly 6,000 THB fare the airline reportedly agreed to with local tour operators. Now the airline is reportedly considering the TAT’s suggestion for it to cover a thousand baht’s worth of the ticket price in order fill more seats.

    When there’s no direct flights between the capital and Betong, travelling there by another route isn’t necessarily less expensive, and it certainly takes more time. Travellers from Bangkok would have to fly to neighboring city of Hat Yai in Songkhla province, where they can then catch a minivan, taxi or private vehicle the rest of the way. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive nonstop over 260 km, according to Google Maps.

    Last month, Nok Air launched its flight services from Don Mueang airport to Betong airport with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and other government officials on March 14. That day, PM Prayut officially declared the airport open for business. But the next day, Nok Air cancelled all three of its weekly flights from Bangkok. The budget airline blamed high operating costs and insufficient marketing time, which resulted in a lack of bookings. As a result, the Bangkok-Betong route was left in limbo without regularly-scheduled flights.

  • #2
    Nok Air gamble fails to take off costing airline millions

    Low-cost budget airline Nok Air’s gamble of investing in a special route to boost tourism has backfired to the tune of 40 million THB. The Thai airline, which mostly operates domestic services out of Don Mueang International Airport, introduced the Bangkok to Betong route in February but plan to scrap it in July after suffering heavy losses.

    The Betong International Airport in the southern province of Yala fully opened for commercial flights in February after the opening schedule was delayed due to Covid-19. Nok Air teamed up with a number of different tourism agencies and the state department to provide a direct flight from Bangkok to Betong to boost tourism in the province.

    But bookings never really took off and Nok Air had to call for support from the government to cover its operation cost. The low-budget airline resumedflights on April 29.2022 with a three-month contract but Nok Air CEO Wuttiphum Chulangkun doesn’t feel it will work.

    Wuttiphum revealed the 1 hour 45 minutes’ Bangkok-Betong route was losing money, despite government support, and operational costs were too high to make it profitable.

    “We have to decide whether we should drop the route or not after the promotion with travel agencies ends in July,”
    revealed Wuttiphum.