Nok Air Posts Net Loss, Hit By Pilot Shortage

February 26, 2016

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Thai budget carrier Nok Air has reported a net loss for a second consecutive year, hit by fierce competition, a shortage of pilots which forced it to curtail flights, and losses at joint venture NokScoot.

The earnings announcement comes after Nok Air cancelled several flights in the past two weeks, prompting the country's civil aviation authority to investigate.

Nok Air, 39.2 percent owned by flag carrier Thai Airways, posted a 2015 net loss of THB726 million baht (USD$20.37 million), versus a THB472 million baht loss in 2014, it said in a statement.

The loss contrasts with annual profits at some other budget and full-service carriers.

Asia Aviation, a major shareholder of Thai Air Asia, reported a near six-fold jump in 2015 net, while Bangkok Airways posted a near five-fold surge in its annual profit.

Nok Air said it carried 7.95 million passengers in 2015, up 11 percent from year earlier, but lower than the 23 percent rise of the overall market because of the entry of newcomers and capacity expansion by existing rivals.

Nok Air's 2015 market share fell to 26.26 percent from 29.15 percent, it said.

The airline's cabin factor, the number of seats sold, was 84.03 percent, but intense price competition pushed its revenue per passenger down 6.64 percent to 2.11 baht per seat per km, it said.

Nok Air also booked one-time expenses and a loss from NokScoot, a long-haul low-cost carrier that is a joint venture with Singapore Airlines unit Scoot.

NokScoot made a net loss of THB1.22 billion baht in 2015, as its expansion to north Asia was impacted by concerns over safety standards raised by ICAO, Nok Air said.

The Thai aviation authority is also examining financial positions of Thai registered airlines as part of the military government's attempt to improve the country's aviation standards following a downgrade by the US FAA in December.