Kan Air resumes flight to Utapao
Locally-operated Kan Air has announced that it has been given permission to resume flying out of Utapao airport in Rayong province, and services would start again by 26 October.
The initial flight schedule will be Utapao to Chiang Mai, which was one of five routes it had been compelled to suspend in mid-June, after only launching on 10 April this year. Kan Air management said the airline will operate three flights a week from Utapao to Chiang Mai (on Monday’s, Thursday’s and Saturday’s), using an ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft.
The return to Utapao is being presented as a low-key restart after its previous efforts were considered far too ambitious because the company had not properly built up its potential business traffic, and was left with far too few passengers for the number of services it was offering.
As well, the Civil Aviation Department revoked its permission for Kan Air to fly out of Utapao until certain formalities were met. These included the airline’s application to change from a charter to a scheduled service company.
Kan Air has now been given permission to fly out of Utapao to Krabi, Phuket, Udon Thani and Hat Yai as well as Chiang Mai. Even so, Kan Air management has been quoted as saying that it will not increase services until such time as it sees what the response is from the marketplace.
Apart from awaiting the market direction, Kan Air also faces a more immediate problem of a restriction on its aircraft capacity. One of its two ATR 72-500 aircraft has had to be sent to Europe for repairs, even though the company could not find any specific fault with the craft.
Management said the on-board mechanicals of the ATR 72-500 kept indicating there was a fault somewhere, but the aircraft was still able to fly. Nonetheless, given the on-ground difficulties Kan Air was already experiencing, the management decided to take no chances with their aircraft safety.
The company is now in a position where it has to consider whether it might be better to upgrade to an A319 or A320 jet rather than have the turboprop return to service.
Kan Air had initially planned to lease two Airbus jets, to be based in Chiang Mai, and this may well be the final outcome in coming weeks.
There are plenty of reports suggesting a number of local and some overseas airlines are keen to see Utapao develop further and become a regional hub which would primarily service flights to Chiang Mai, Krabi, Hat Yai and Phuket as well as regional centres such as Phnom Penh, Hanoi and the like.