Krabi Airline set to debut later this year
Krabi Airline is being set up and plans to operate between the province and international destinations, to take advantage of Krabi Airport's upgrade to an international airport.
The airline was founded by four investors, including ex-employees of Thai Airways International, including Kosol Vongsrisart.
It plans to fly to Norway, Germany and Australia by the end of the year and the US and Japan within five years, said Civil Aviation Department director-general Chaisak Angkasuwan.
Chaisak said the establishment of the airline would be completed very soon and that it would start operating on November 1.
The new airline began being organised after Krabi Airport was upgraded to international status. Krabi Airline will be the first fully scheduled airline using it.
At first, the airline will service two international routes: to Oslo and Munich.
In the second phase, between this year and 2009, the airline plans to fly to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia, plus one city in New Zealand. Chaisak said the airline would use two Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in its first year, increasing the number of aircraft to five within five years and up to 10 by 2013.
The airline is targeting tourists from Europe as the main market and expects to run an average cabin factor of at least 70 per cent.
Furthermore, the airline also plans to spread to Vancouver, Canada; Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; Tokyo and Osaka in Japan; and Seoul. These routes are set for 2011-13.
Krabi became one of the most popular beach resort destinations for foreigners in the years prior to the 2004 tsunami. It is still recovering, and tourists are gradually returning.
Meanwhile, Thailand's open-sky policy is key to encouraging investors to start an aviation business.
Chaisak added that more than 10 airlines were in the process of being established. Each one is required to have at least Bt200 million in registered capital.
Most are intended to serve Asian markets.
Suchat Sritama, The Nation