NokScoot alliance adds to Don Mueang competition

Singapore’s Scoot is shifting its base from Suvarnabhumi airport to Don Mueang to pave the way for a major consolidation before its newly formed joint venture with Thailand’s Nok Air takes off.

Scoot is to start operating from Bangkok’s older airport in May, while NokScoot — 49% owned by Scoot and 51% by Nok Air — will begin services from the same airport in July.

Don Mueang general manager Chaturongkapon Sodmanee confirmed the decision of the two long-haul low-cost carriers (LCCs) to use the airport as their hub.

The embrace of Don Mueang by Scoot and NokScoot is seen by industry executives as a move to gain leverage against Thai AirAsia X (TAAX), the first long-haul budget airline scheduled to start operating from the airport (in March).

Scoot and NokScoot are entitled to a range of incentives at Don Mueang, including reduced landing and parking fees, lower office rental fees and airline support charges, and a lesser chance of being delayed for landing and take-off.

The relative light air traffic at Don Mueang compared with crowded Suvarnabhumi also lets airlines achieve better turn-around times and improved on-time performance.

Many passengers prefer Don Mueang for its easier commute in and out of Bangkok, greater proximity to the city centre and easy ground transport choices, Mr Chaturongkapon told the Bangkok Post.

In a nutshell, the move of Scoot and NokScoot to Don Mueang will ensure that they can compete with TAAX on a level playing field in terms of airport costs.

For now, Scoot will operate scheduled flights from Don Mueang to Singapore, its main hub, while

NokScoot plans to offer flights from Don Mueang to East Asia — Japan, South Korea and northern China.

Spurred to action by AirAsia’s aggressive moves in the Thai market, Nok Air sees NokScoot complementing its current network, which covers only Thailand and Myanmar.

Via NokScoot, Nok Air can provide a broader network and tap more distant routes with flights of more than four hours.

Moreover, NokScoot will give an extra push to Nok Air’s international ambitions, viewed as low-key to date.

Scoot, for its part, has been eager to catch up with AirAsia X, Southeast Asia’s long-haul LCC leader, in the Bangkok market.