European ambition caused Nok Air strike

European ambition caused Nok Air strike

Nok Air management blames Sunday's strike on its business expansion plan to Europe. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Nok Air management blames Sunday's strike on its business expansion plan to Europe. (Photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

The chief executive officer of Nok Air blames Sunday's flight chaos on the airline's efforts to improve its standards to help Europe operations, which upset some pilots.

Speaking to the press at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok on Wednesday, Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin said the airline management had to stop some pilots from holding both pilot and executive positions in order to meet the standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and that had affected the pilots.

The airline planned to seal lease contracts with European airlines so that others could lease its planes and pilots to meet high season demand in Europe at a time when it would be low season for Nok Air in Thailand.

Reciprocally, Nok Air would be able to lease aircraft and pilots from its European partners to serve demand in Thailand during the local high season when it would be the low season in Europe.

The plan that would increase revenue and cut plane acquisition costs required to meet EASA standards, Mr Patee said.

He expected the partnership to begin in July. EASA would audit the standards of Nok Air on March 27.

The strike on Sunday could postpone Nok Air's presence in Europe to early next year, but European partners could start to fly in Thailand on behalf of Nok Air in July, Mr Patee said.

He said the strike on Sunday affected 17 flights and about 3,000 passengers, half of whom were left stranded at Don Mueang airport and the rest in other provinces.

As an investigation into the performance of some pilots continued, Nok Air would have to depend on some chartered flights of other airlines until Feb 22, Mr Patee said.

He said Nok Air was facing a shortage of pilots and had thus cut its flight frequencies since last October. He hoped pilot recruitment in April would solve the problem.

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