The chief executive officer of Nok Air (DD, Bangkok Don Mueang) says the low-cost carrier may not complete its business rehabilitatiion within the mandated five year period, citing fuel costs, the foreign exchange rate, and aircraft availability as reasons why.

Speaking to The Bangkok Post, CEO Wutthiphum Jurangkool would not guarantee the court supervised rehabilitation plan would be finished by the latter half of 2026. "Regarding the pace of rehabilitation, fuel cost remains higher than in 2019 and the exchange rate and airplane restoration must be factored in," he said "Passenger demand is quite strong, but it depends on how fast we can increase the jet fleet to cater to that growth." The CEO also says his airline faces manpower shortages.

As first reported in ch-aviation, Nok Air has now phased out its last DHC-8-Q400s but wants to add six narrowbody jets to its fleet. Wutthiphum says the limited Q400 seating capacity and high maintenance costs made them unprofitable to operate. The exit of the turboprops leaves the carrier with a 14-strong fleet of B737-800s.

Since entering the business rehabilitation process 18 months ago, Wutthiphum says the carrier's financial fortunes have improved, largely on the back of increased travel demand. In a recent stock market update, he said the airline was meeting its financial commitments per the rehabilitation plan, but had so far only paid down 2% of the amount Nok Air has agreed to repay to creditors. Wutthiphum says expanding operations and the network, now constrained by the lack of available aircraft, will generate more revenue and speed the repayment process up.

The CEO also said that he was unfussed about the proposed merger between Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) and its low cost subsidiary Thai Smile (Bangkok Suvarnabhumi), saying it will not impact Nok Air's operations. Thai Airways owns a relatively large stake in Nok Air and the two airlines cooperate in areas such as route planning. In 2021, Thai Airways flagged selling its stake in Nok Air, but Wutthiphum confirms that this has not happened, and either way, any future divestment will not impact Nok Air's business rehabilitation.