Thai airline eyes Myanmar as it plans to open up flights to the region

20 June 2021
Thai airline eyes Myanmar as it plans to open up flights to the region
Photo: EPA

Thai carrier Nok Air has Myanmar as one of the countries in its sights as travel options in ASEAN look set to open up soon as COVID-19 fears dissipate.

Nok Air chief executive Wutthiphum Jurangkool told the Bangkok Post his week about his hopes for Thailand and the ASEAN region. He noted that after passenger traffic in Thailand recorded a major 90 percent decrease in May, bookings this month have improved because of COVID-19 vaccinations and less worry regarding the third wave of the virus.

Nok Air plans to start international services in December but this will depend on the virus situation and other conditions such as the political climate in Myanmar and travel policy in China.

Myanmar, China, Vietnam, India and Japan are among destinations that Nok Air would like to connect to in the first stage, Mr Wutthiphum told the newspaper.

He said the airline is currently preparing to open new routes in Japan, Vietnam and China. The industry will not face an intense price war because airlines have had to downsize their fleets to control operational costs to mitigate the pandemic's impact.

The tourism and aviation industries in Thailand are hoping the country's mass vaccination scheme can improve travel sentiment and gradually bolster the country’s economy. Thailand’s prime minister recently said his country would fully reopen within 120 days.

Travel between Thailand and Myanmar is currently restricted due to concerns in Thailand over the possible spread of COVID-19. The country has recorded 214,449 cases and 1,609 deaths connected to the virus.

Nok Air has increased the frequencies of flights by 20% this month, up from 30-40 flights per day during the third wave.