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Nok, Thai Air Asia in dogfight over route
Nakhon Phanom has become a new battleground for the budget carriers Nok Air and Thai AirAsia (TAA), both of which are pursuing an aggressive domestic network expansion to absorb their growing capacity.
Two weeks after Nok Air commenced daily non-stop service between Bangkok and the northeastern city with 66-seat ATR-72 turboprop aircraft, TAA has outdone it by announcing a once-a-day jet service on the same route with a 180-seat A320-200.
Nok Air's Nakhon Phanom service began on Dec 9, making it the only airline offering scheduled flights to the city for now.
TAA flights to the city will start on Feb 15. However, it plans to beat Nok Air's price with a promotional one-way fare of only 690 baht for the initial service period.
Tassapon Bijleveld, TAA's chief executive, said the carrier is also looking at other new direct domestic flights that would increase connectivity between routes that have great tourism and investment potential.
The Bangkok-Nakhon Phanom route will work in tandem with the third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge between Nakhon Phanom and Khammouane to increase connectivity between the two countries.
Yet, TAA's new flight offer an additional transportation options which will stimulate trade and investment between the two countries.
"Nakhon Phanom is a culturally diverse city, an attractive tourist destination with huge cultural influences from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Popular attractions include Wat Phra That Phanom," said Mr Tassapon.
Meanwhile, Kathleen Tan, AirAsia's regional commercial head, said the parent airline will introduce a new, thrice-weekly route to Thailand between Kuala Lumpur and Surat Thani on Feb 6.
She expressed optimism about potential traffic on the new route, pointing out that Surat Thani is Thailand's largest southern province and the gateway to Koh Samui.
TAA and its parent carrier serve 10 Thai destinations, including Bangkok, and are on course to add Trang early next year in addition to the Nakhon Phanom service.