2014 will be another year of milestones for Nok. The carrier will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Feb-2014, making it one of Asia’s oldest (but lesser known) LCCs. Nok also has one of Asia’s longest serving airline CEOs in Patee Sarasin, who has been with Nok since its launch and is also a large shareholder.
Mr Patee tells CAPA that carrier will grow its fleet in 2014 by four to six aircraft. Nok’s current fleet plan has four additional 737-800s in 2014 followed by another four of the type in 2015 for a total of 22 by the end of 2015. But Mr Patee says Nok is now seeking to accelerate fleet expansion by leasing two to three additional 737-800s in 2014 and 2015 for a total of 24 to 25 aircraft by the end of 2015. He says an order directly with Boeing may also be placed in 2014 covering 737-800 deliveries from 2015 or 2016 as well 737 MAX deliveries from about 2018.
Nok also plans to take delivery of two Q400s in 4Q2014, providing growth opportunities on regional routes as the Q400s, which will be configured with 86 seats, are faster and larger than its 72-seat ATR 72s. Mr Patee says Nok will look at acquiring another two Q400s depending on the initial performance of the aircraft. He says the two ATR 72s, which were only leased about a year ago, will be returned after the Q400s are delivered with assistance from Bombardier.
The forthcoming 737-800 expansion will enable further domestic growth with a focus on existing routes as well as expansion of Nok’s limited international network. Nok plans to re-enter the Thailand-Vietnam market by the end of 2014, with services from Bangkok to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
The carrier also has earmarked three China routes and three more Myanmar routes in its network plan – including Bangkok to Chengdu, Nanjing and Xian and from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand to Bagan, Heho and Mandalay. Some of these routes may not be launched until 2015 and some of the Thailand-Myanmar routes may be operated with regional aircraft.