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Cancellation of flights to new Betong airport a ‘costly lesson’ for govt, say tourism operators


Betong tourism operators are unhappy with Nok Air’s cancellation of flights to the new Betong International Airport, adding that the government must learn from this “expensive lesson”.

The airline cancelled flights on Wednesday (March 16), just two days after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cabinet flew in to officially open the airport.

Nok Air’s chief operating officer Suthee Chulajata said on Thursday that the airline needs more time to adjust its marketing plans due to the energy crisis and the Covid-19 situation. The cancellation was reportedly due to a lack of passengers.

Nok Air was initially scheduled to fly from Bangkok’s Don Mueang to Betong on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Cancellation of flights to new Betong airport a ‘costly lesson’ for govt, say tourism operators

Ekasit Thareelapraksa, of Betong Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, said on Friday that Nok Air’s abrupt cancellation of flights will undermine the confidence of tourists and businesses in the airport’s potential as a southern tourism hub.

“Many businesses have already organised promotional campaigns to attract tourists to Betong, and now they have to cancel too,” he said. “The government must learn from this expensive lesson so that it does not repeat the same mistake again in the future.”

Ekasit said authorities should not allow a single airline to monopolise flight services at any airport.

“Allowing more airlines to fly will not only attract more passengers but also invite further investment in the airport,” he added.

Boriphat Khongkha, 58, a Betong local who had booked a Nok Air flight to Bangkok on Wednesday, said he was shocked when the airline cancelled the flight less than 24 hours before departure.

“It’s understandable that flights to a new airport might have some issues, but cancellation of flights is totally unexpected,” he said. “However, I hope that people will still give Betong Airport a chance and believe that given time more passengers will land in Betong.”

Published : March 19, 2022

By : THE NATION