Thai Airways International plans to transfer more domestic routes and three Boeing 737-400s to its low-cost carrier Nok Air.

"They already have three Boeing 737-400s from us and we will be putting three more into Nok," Thai executive VP commercial Pruet Boobphakam told ATI on the sidelines of the Assocation of Asia Pacific Airlines meeting in Singapore.

Thai has also transferred its two ATR 72-500s to Nok, says Pruet.

He says Thai plans to transfer more domestic routes to Nok and cites, as an example, Bangkok-Udon Thani.

This is a very popular route that Thai operates Airbus A300s on.

It is mostly frequented by Thais and relatively few tourists.

Boobphakam says Thai wants to retain a strong presence on domestic trunk routes where there are a lot of foreign tourists transiting.

It is important that Thai be able to serve foreign tourists, he says, adding that Thai will retain a strong presence on the Bangkok-Phuket and Bangkok-Chiang Mai routes.

Boobphakam also says Thai wants Nok and its partner SGA Airlines to move onto PB Air's routes.

PB Air is a privately-owned carrier that operated on six domestic routes but recently suspended all its operations.

Nok and SGA Airlines announced earlier this year they are teaming up to introduce Saab 340 domestic flights to Thailand.

Boobphakam says it is important for Thai that Nok and SGA be successful otherwise the Thai Government might ask Thai to serve these small routes as a matter of national service.

Thai also wants Nok to succeed because Thai has a large minority stake in Nok.

Boobphakam says Thai would be interested to increase its stake in Nok.

But would want it to remain below 49%, he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news