Nok Air veteran to launch new carrier

Nok Air veteran to launch new carrier

Really Cool Airlines' potential routes comprise Japan, Australia, the UK, France and China.
Really Cool Airlines' potential routes comprise Japan, Australia, the UK, France and China.

Amidst the Thai tourism recovery, airline veteran Patee Sarasin is setting up a new long-haul carrier with venture capital, starting with four wide-body aircraft and a goal of 70% foreign passengers.

Mr Patee, chief executive of Really Cool Airlines, said the carrier is in the process of obtaining an air operator certificate and air operating licence from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, with both expected to be issued in September to allow an inaugural flight in December.

"I would like to help bring tourists to Thailand and change the aviation industry through innovation and technology," he said.

By marketing Really Cool Airlines as a full-service lifestyle carrier, Mr Patee said its service will range between premium and low-cost.

The carrier plans to start with two leased Airbus A330 planes this year, adding two more jets at the beginning of 2024. The company's potential routes comprise Japan, Australia, the UK, France and China.

Staff recruitment is projected to start around June this year, while the airline is working on details such as pricing strategy and revenue projection, he said.

Mr Patee said the airline will focus solely on international routes to avoid highly competitive domestic routes, which are expected to be more intense when local tourism returns to normal levels.

Mr Patee says the new airline expects to start operations with four wide-body aircraft and a goal of 70% foreign passengers.

He worked at low-cost carrier Nok Air for 14 years until 2017, then witnessed the downturn of the aviation business during the pandemic. Mr Patee said he decided to return to the sector after seeing the potential of long-haul services, given huge foreign demand to travel to Thailand and limited flight capacity.

He has a 51% stake in Really Cool Airlines, which has registered capital of 1 million baht. Other shareholders include a venture capital firm comprised of investors from various industries.

"Our shareholders are Thais who have no experience in the aviation industry, including people from the tech industry, but they can share their expertise from other fields that could be useful for the new airline," said Mr Patee.

"The company aims to be the most innovative airline, differing from existing players."

He said the idea for the airline emerged last year after he helped the chief executive of a well-known Thai carrier restructure its operations.

"Unfortunately that executive passed away last year, so I decided to continue with the plan I discussed with him to make this concept a reality," said Mr Patee, citing the demise of former AirAsia X group chief executive Nadda Buranasiri.

Mr Patee said another lesson learned from the pandemic was how to balance airline income from cargo services, which proved to be a saviour for many carriers desperate for consistent revenue over the past three years.

"I'm confident we have a formula to survive any crisis in the future," he said.

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