Nok Air extends flight cancellations

Nok Air extends flight cancellations

An airplane of Nok Air is parked at Trang airport on Tuesday as the airline extends its partial flight cancellations in provinces through to Sunday. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)
An airplane of Nok Air is parked at Trang airport on Tuesday as the airline extends its partial flight cancellations in provinces through to Sunday. (Photo by Methee Muangkaew)

Nok Air continues to cancel some scheduled domestic services, with some round flights to Khon Kaen, Trang and Surat Thani now suspended from Tuesday through to Sunday.

Atthyaya Larpmark, director of Khon Kaen airport, said on Tuesday that Nok Air has cancelled one round trip a day between Bangkok and the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, from Feb 23 to 28.

Flights operated by Thai Smile and Thai AirAsia would, however, cater for the passengers booked on the cancelled Khon Kaen flights.

Nok Air normally operates three daily round trips between Don Mueang in Bangkok and Khon Kaen. One has been cancelled - flights DD9814 and DD9815. Passengers would not be seriously inconvenienced because the airline had informed them in advance of the alternative arrangement, he said.

The airport director said Nok Air clients were still seeking refunds for tickets bought earlier at the airport. Many people said they had lost confidence in Nok Air and would move their custom to other airlines.

In the southern province of Trang, passengers reportedly also received a message from Nok Air that one of its three daily round trips between Bangkok and Trang (flights DD7406 and DD7407) would be cancelled during Feb 23-28.

Trang governor Detrat Simasiri said on Tuesday the flight cancellations were affecting tourism in Trang, which is in the tourist high season. Travellers who had booked tickets were being greatly inconvenienced because they would have to land at other airports such as Krabi and Hat Yai.

He hoped that another airline which had previously applied for a licence to fly to Trang could help. But civil aviation authorities would need to quickly issue the licence.

Karuna Dechartwong na Ayutthaya, director of the Trang office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, also said most visitors to Trang travelled by air and the flight cancellations were affecting the tourism sector.

Nok Air flight cancellations this week also affect Surat Thani province. Morning flights  DD7208 and DD7209 between Don Mueang airport and Surat Thani airport have been suspended  through to Sunday.

The airline said travellers were not left stranded at Surat Thani airport because Thai Lion Air increased its flights to serve them.

A former airline employee said on the condition of anonymity that Nok Air faced a severe shortage of pilots and ground staff because many of them resigned to join Thai Lion Air for better money and conditions.

On Feb 14, 10 pilots' sudden absence affected 17 Nok Air flights and about 3,000 travellers. Nok Air announced the cancellation of 20 flights on Tuesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is currently investigating the Feb 14 stoppage, which resulted in one pilot being fired, two others suspended and inquiries being launched involving seven more.

Nok Air said earlier that the flash strike resulted from the dissatisfaction of some pilots who did not pass a new aviation management audit based on standards set by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the International Air Transport Association. Among the EASA measures is a ban on pilots concurrently holding management positions.

The pilots earlier said separately they would not even call their action a strike. They claimed the cancellations were due to a critical shortage of pilots and overwork.

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