Kan Air grounded 'for now'

Kan Air grounded 'for now'

Kan Air has suspended its operations altogether due to technical issues related to its aircraft.

The commuter airline has completely stopped accepting bookings for its flights starting today as its one remaining aircraft, a 12-seater, single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, developed problems with its blades.

That compounded the technical problems the carrier has had with the propeller of its only other main workhorse, the 66-seat ATR 72-500 turboprop, which has been grounded since March 20. It remains up in the air whether that plane will ever return to service.

But president Somphong Sooksanguan yesterday denied speculation the aircraft issues meant Kan Air was folding its airline business.

He told the Bangkok Post that the Cessana aircraft should be repaired in the next few weeks.

That would allow Kan Air to resume flights from its Chiang Mai base to Mae Hong Son, Pai, Nan, Mae Sod, Chiang Rai and Phitsanulok.

But there are no immediate plans to resume longer domestic flights, which were previously served by the ATR 72-500.

That resumption is subject to the results of Kan Air's on-going process to find joint venture partners who would provide a capital injection.

The airline is still considering options to rebuild its fleet with a couple of turboprops and an Airbus 319 narrow-body jet.

Acquiring the Airbus would help Kan Air spread its wings internationally for the first time. He aims to fly to neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, China and India.

Kan Air has reportedly been holding talks with two prospective joint-venture partners. One is a tourism-related entity from China and the other has only been identified as a Thai investor.

Mr Somphong has not set any prerequisites for the joint ventures or the size of the holdings but is looking for partners with good capital bases and business support.

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