Thai Airways International has transferred three loss-making domestic routes to its low-cost subsidiary Nok Air as it tries to cut costs.

The three routes are Bangkok-Phitsanulok, Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani and Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son, says Thai, which will transfer the routes from 1 March 2010.

Thai is carrying out the transfers so it can "make [an] adjustment on its costs to meet increased competitiveness", says the airline.

"Over the past 5 years, losses were incurred for operational results on flights to Phitsanulok at the average of 86.3 million baht ($2.6 million) per year, to Ubon Ratchathani at 74.9 million baht per year, and to Mae Hong Son at the average of 49.9 million baht per year," it adds.

The frequency of flights on the three routes will remain the same when they are transferred to Nok, says Thai.

It operates the Phitsanulok service 14 times weekly, the Ubon Ratchathani service 21 times weekly, and the Mae Hong Son service 14 times weekly.

Nok has not decided on the aircraft that will be operated on the three routes, but it may lease a fourth Boeing 737-400 from Thai to meet the extra capacity, says a Nok spokesman.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news