Nok Air (DD, Bangkok Don Mueang) is preparing to grow its business as it emerges from restructuring with a plan to raise THB4.88 billion baht (USD133 million) in fresh capital, add at least six B737-800s by 2023, and possibly open a base at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Chief Executive Wutthiphum Jurangkool told the Bangkok Post in an interview.

"The airline plans to add six more B737-800 aircraft to the current fleet of 17 aircraft this year and next. However, this will depend on demand, particularly from China and neighbouring countries," Wutthiphum said.

The ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows that the low-cost carrier, which counts Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) as its minority shareholder, currently operates fourteen B737-800s and three DHC-8-Q400s. It has retired three B737-800s and five DHC8-Q400s since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but is now looking to grow the fleet again. The remaining De Havilland Aircraft of Canada turboprops are slated for retirement by 2027 at the latest.

Wutthiphum added that the potential entry into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi would facilitate international connections, although he did not specify whether the LCC was planning to launch international flights from the main Thai gateway or would instead cooperate with Thai Airways.

Following this year's decision by Thai AirAsia (FD, Bangkok Don Mueang) to enter Suvarnabhumi alongside Bangkok Don Mueang, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air (SL, Bangkok Don Mueang) are currently the only Thai carriers serving the capital exclusively through Don Mueang. Thai Airways and its regional subsidiary Thai Smile (WE, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi) do not operate from the airport.

The LCC continues to explore new, untapped markets in Thailand. Following months of negotiations, the airline extended its joint-venture with three Thai tour operators to continue the Bangkok-Yala Betong route through the end of October 2022. The agreement covers 3x weekly Dash 8 flights, on which the tour operators buy 80% of available seats. The carrier has been flying to the newly opened airport in southern Thailand since April 2022 and is currently the only operator serving it.

Nok Air will also launch 2x weekly services from Nakhon Ratchasima to Chiang Mai on August 2. It will be the first scheduled route from Nakhon Ratchasima for more than four years. Wutthiphum said that domestically, the airline was also evaluating entering Ranong, Chumphon, and Sakon Nakhon, as well as relaunching the Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son route. Internationally, the carrier is in the process of securing traffic rights for India and is awaiting the reopening of Japan.

As reported previously, the fresh capital injection would comprise THB280 million (USD7.7 million) from existing shareholders, THB600 million (USD16.4 million) in a new share issue, and then - only in 2026 - THB4 billion (USD109 million) from the market.