Kan Air returns to U-tapao with restricted service

Kan Air returns to U-tapao with restricted service

Kan Air will resume flights out of U-tapao airport late this month but only on one route with limited frequency.

The commuter airline will restart its U-tapao to Chiang Mai service on Oct 26, one of the five routes out of the navy-operated airfield it suspended on June 15 after an April 10 launch.

Kan Air will operate three flights a week from its Chiang Mai base to U-tapao in Rayong province, on  Monday, Thursday and Saturday, using an ATR 72-500 turboprop.

The airline is returning to U-tapao with greater caution this time after the previous launch was considered too ambitious and premature before traffic was built up.

Also complicating its U-tapao service was a ban by the Civil Aviation Department until the airline corrected the nature of its flights after it applied to switch from a charter basis to scheduled service.

However, since July 20 Kan Air has been granted permission to operate regular flights from U-tapao to Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Hat Yai after the airline took corrective action.

Somphong Sooksanguan, president of Kannithi Aviation Co, operator of Kan Air, yesterday told the Bangkok Post he wanted to see how the market responded to the new service between U-tapao and Chiang Mai before deciding to raise the frequency.

The airline plans to serve other Thai cities such as Hat Yai and Krabi from U-tapao, which several airlines want to use as a new hub.

But Kan Air's plan to ramp up service out of U-tapao is currently restricted by aircraft capacity, as one of its two ATR 72-500s was sent for repairs in Europe by the aircraft lessor several weeks ago.

"The problem is the aeroplane kept indicating some kind of fault even though it could still fly, but we take no risks,'' Mr Somphong said.

Kan Air is mulling whether to put the turboprop back into service after the problem is fixed or replace it with an A319 or A320 jet.

The airline will soon have to decide, Mr Somphong said, noting that the initial plan was to lease two Airbus jets and base them in Chiang Mai.

Whatever the decision, Nok Air's sole remaining ATR 72-500 will be retained and serve flights out of Bangkok's Don Mueang airport to Mae Sot and Phrae in the North.

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