Nok Air needs internal ‘shake-up’ to keep flying high


NOK Air is in desperate need of an internal shake-up if it is to keep its remaining credibility with passengers and travel agents, a leading analyst has warned.

Endau Analytics aviation analyst Shukor Yusof said while the airline had attempted damage control and rebranding after the pilot strike and mass cancellations earlier this year, “the damage has been done”.

“In my view they took a while to realise the gravity of the situation and the problems,” Yusof said.

“It’s an airline under the aegis of Thai Airways – the flag carrier – so it retains some form of credibility. But only just.

“Nok needs a real shake-up internally. Unless that happens it will continue to struggle to face the competition judging from its recent US$10 million losses.”

The airline was hit with another public relations headache this week as a co-pilot joked on social media about crashing a plane carrying former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand is seeking clarification after the Nok Air co-pilot described passengers as “victims” and wrote “do a CFIT”, or controlled flight into terrain, in a Line group chat.

Nok Air also last week changed its slogan from “We Fly Smiles” to “Smiling Across Asia” as it moved to capitalise on joining the Value Alliance.

CEO Patee Sarasin said the slogan reflected the airline’s efforts to raise its profile from a national to a regional level. However, Nok Air did not respond to questions about steps it had taken to avoid a repeat of the mass cancellations seen in February and March.

Yusof said Nok Air was hoping to piggyback on stronger partners through the Value Alliance, but it had always played second fiddle to Thai AirAsia.

Asked if the new slogan would help, Yusof said: “No, but a new CEO might.”

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