NokScoot is making an unspecified number of staff redundant, and returning three aircraft by month-end, as part of a rationalisation of its business amid the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Following a review of our operations, NokScoot has taken steps to rationalise our business to cope with the huge impact on the airline industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite some early signs of stabilising and the recent lifting of some restrictions across the world, borders and international movement of people remained highly restricted. Demand for air travel is not expected to return to the 2019 levels until 2022 or 2023,” NokScoot tells Cirium in a statement.

The airline says that in response to weak demand for air travel, it has agreed with its lessor to return three aircraft by the end of the month.

A source told Cirium on 24 June that all the aircraft are planned to be returned eventually as the company’s shareholders are discussing winding up the joint venture, but NokScoot would not comment on this.

Cirium fleets data show NokScoot operates a fleet of seven Boeing 777-200s and owns all the aircraft. Cirium data also show that NokScoot is 49% owned by Scoot, 49% by Nok Air and 2% by NokScoot management (Pueannammitr Co).

“In response to the weak outlook for air travel, we have agreed with our lessor to return three aircraft by the end of this month. Regrettably, this means the need to reduce staff as well. It was a difficult decision and we understand the impact it will have on staff. All affected employees will be paid severance in full according to Thai labour law,” the airline said.

“We are also mindful that alternative employment will be important to those affected and NokScoot will do all we can to provide support in this regard. We remain committed in ensuring the safety and care of our valued customers and employees.”