Thailand low-cost carrier Nok Air plans to start international services in the third quarter of this year, shortly after it completes its initial public offering.
The carrier has identified Myanmar as its first international destination, and is likely to start with twice daily services to Mawlamyine, Myanmar's third largest city, says Nok chief executive Patee Sarasin in an interview with Flightglobal Pro. This will likely be followed by services to Yangon and Mandalay, he adds.
Thereafter, Nok, which is based at Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport, also plans to start services to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
The carrier used to serve international routes to Bengaluru and Hanoi, but both were suspended in 2008 when Nok had to scale back operations dramatically as it lost money in the face of rising fuel prices.
This time round, the carrier is taking a more calculated approach to its international expansion plans.
"We studied our market very thoroughly this time. We used to fly to India and Hanoi but India was disastrous. We didn't understand the market then as well as we do [now]. It took us three months to plan and off we went. This time we study, make sure there is a market, then we do it," Sarasin says.
He adds that domestically, the carrier also has plans to add two more destinations - Krabi and Lampang - to its network.
Nok is targeting to grow its fleet by 40-50 aircraft by 2015 to support its expansion plans. It now operates a fleet of 16 aircraft consisting of Boeing 737-800s, 737-400s and ATR 72s.