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Thai airline encouraged to spread its wings in Burma

Nok Air begins flights to Rangoon on 1 November but Burma's ambassador to Thailand has asked the carrier to consider expanding its presence in the country. (AFP)

Burma yesterday urged Nok Air to expand its footprint in the country to cover the major cities of Naypyidaw, Mandalay and Bagan.

Burmese Ambassador in Thailand Tin Win said Burma would like to encourage the Thai budget carrier to expand beyond Rangoon, where it will land from Nov 1.

Nok Air chief executive Patee Sarasin said covering those Burmese cities may be possible but did not offer a specific time frame.

He said he wants to see the Bangkok-Rangoon jet service and two other shorter routes – from Mae Sot to Moulmein and Rangoon, recently launched by its Nok Mini affiliate – become well established.

“Let’s get our three Burma routes right first before we move on to other places,” he told the Bangkok Post.

Nok Air’s Burma strategy focuses on emerging secondary routes linking Thai provinces with Burma cities not served by any airlines with turboprop aircraft.

Thai Airways International and its budget subsidiary THAI Smile, Thai AirAsia and Bangkok Airways already serve Rangoon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw.

In addition, Burma Airways, Air Bagan and Golden Burma also operate flights between the two countries.

Mr Patee said the Bangkok- Rangoon route has fast-growing demand and can accommodate an additional player such as Nok Air.

Nok Air has chosen the route for the resumption of its international jet service after an interval of six years.

It will gradually increase the frequency of flights on the route, starting with four flights a week before moving to daily and twice daily from next year.

Shares of NOK closed yesterday on the SET at 24.90 baht, up 10 satang, in trade worth 42.3 million baht.

This article was first published in the Bangkok Post on 12 October 2013.