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Tourism Fears After Nok Air Stops Flights

21 Apr, 2023

MAE HONG SON: Local tourism authorities are developing plans to assist the province's tourism sector after Nok Air stopped its direct flights there due to business losses.

Nok Air's direct commercial flights to Mae Hong Son ended on Wednesday.

Chanakhet Boonyakhan, senior president of the Mae Hong Son Chamber of Commerce, said the axing of Nok Air's flights would do more harm than good to the province.

Ms Chanakhet said the chamber is working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to address problems caused by the flight terminations and will hold talks with Bangkok Airways to fly to the province.



She said not having an air service will affect the province's tourism and its development as well as the country's overall economic growth.

Now tourists can only reach the province via three rural roads from Chiang Mai, she said.

Acting Sub Lt Panuwat Khadnak, director of the TAT's Mae Hong Son Office, said a visit to the province by road requires a six-hour drive from Chiang Mai instead of a 50-minute flight from Chiang Mai or about a two-hour flight from Bangkok.

However, there are some advantages to travelling via road, according to Panudech Chaisakul, president of the Mae Hong Son Tourism Business Association.

It lets tourists appreciate the province's scenery. He also said increased road travel is an opportunity to spread income to local communities as most visitors enter the province in the high season from November to February, with 70% heading just to Pai district.

Nok Air also decided on Thursday to end all its flights nationwide using 50-seat De Havilland Canada Dash 8 Q400 aircraft and returned them to the vendor.

The carrier was financially hit due to its use of the Q400 over eight years, according to a Nok Air statement.

The cost of Q400 maintenance and their limited competitiveness against larger models, such as the Boeing 737, made them not financially viable for the carrier.



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