Nok Air delays put airlines under scrutiny

Nok Air delays put airlines under scrutiny

Passengers check the status of their flight at Suvarnabhumi airport. Somchai Poomlard
Passengers check the status of their flight at Suvarnabhumi airport. Somchai Poomlard

The on-time performance (OTP) of airlines has become a hot topic after Nok Air delayed a number of flights that affected passengers this week.

Well-known TV reporter Thapanee Eadsrichai posted on her Facebook account on Tuesday a number of passengers on a Nok Air flight from Don Mueang airport to Chiang Mai were relocated to other flights because of problems. Many passengers shared similar experiences online regarding flight delays, which affected their work and travel plans.

Wutthiphum Jurangkool, chief executive of Nok Air, said the airline acknowledges there were technical problems with some aircraft since Friday, as one of its 10 active jets, a Boeing 737-800, was damaged by lightning and needed maintenance, which took three days.

On Friday, flights bound for Chiang Rai and Hat Yai also faced critical weather conditions, particularly the latter flight, which had to divert back to Don Mueang, resulting in massive flight rescheduling over the weekend.

He said even though the airline cooperates with other low-cost carriers, such as Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion Air, to help relocate passengers to their flights, this may not satisfy all passengers.

Mr Wutthiphum said two of Nok Air's jets have been out of commission the past 10 days as they were sent in for regular maintenance. The utilisation rate of active aircraft is around 11 hours per day, below the maximum rate, he said.

"We admit the incidents that affected passengers during the past few days were caused by urgent issues related to safety, as we needed to wait for machine parts," said Mr Wutthiphum.

He said the airline reported the incidents to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand and was committed to maintaining its OTP at higher than 80%, a rate it has maintained since the beginning of this year.

Nok Air is operating under a rehabilitation plan that was approved by the Central Bankruptcy Court on Nov 29, 2021.

The OTP rate is typically gauged by the time aircraft arrive at the gate, which should be no more than 15 minutes off the schedule.

In October, ANA and Japan Airlines secured the highest rates in Asia-Pacific at 85.1% and 83.9%, respectively, according to Cirium aviation analytics. Thai AirAsia previously seized the top spot in September with an OTP rate of 87.5%.

According to data last month from OAG, a travel data provider, Bangkok Airways had the highest OTP rate at 84.1%, followed by Thai Smile Airways (83.5%), Thai Lion Air (80.8%), Thai Airways International (77.6%) and Thai AirAsia X (72.2%).

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