16th Sep 2022
Nok Air has provisionally cancelled all flights between Chiang Mai and Korat, only six weeks after the maiden trip on August 2. The route that was halted was the sole commercial flight entering and leaving Isaan's Nakhon Ratchasima Airport, which is now a ghost town and in danger of closing again.
The service had great promise, since it connected the capital of the North to Nakhon Ratchasima – often known as 'Korat' – in northeast Thailand, which would have normally required 10.5 hours of driving. The route seemed promising when 86 passengers boarded the debut flight of Nok Air's Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft last month.
As time passed, the number of passengers decreased and the airline began to incur losses. On several flights, there were just nine passengers. Nok Air said that their fleet requires maintenance this month and there are insufficient planes to service all routes.
The airline took the financial choice to discontinue the Chiang Mai – Korat route for the time being, but aims to reintroduce the service in the future if they can find a way to attract more customers.
Commercial flights at Nakhon Ratchasima airport resumed last month after years of halting due to low seat demand.The airport reopened specifically for Nok Air's Chiang Mai – Korat route, which operates on Saturdays and Tuesdays at a one-way cost of 2,100 baht.
Now, the airport is once again under danger of closure. Today, the provincial governor of Nakhon Ratchasima and leaders from the public and private sectors met at the Nakhon Ratchasima City Hall to examine ways to increase commercial air traffic into and out of Korat. Wuttipoom Churankun, CEO of Nok Air, attended the meeting via video conference.
In the past, several airlines, including Thai Airways, Air Andaman, AirAsia, Air Phoenix, Happy Air, Thai Regional Airlines, and Kan Air, have established and discontinued their Korat services.
If Nok Air fails to restart the Chiang Mai – Korat route as scheduled, they will become the tenth airline to cease operations at Nakhon Ratchasima airport.