Thailand’s Quirky Low Cost Carrier- Nok Air

Thailand; a country is known for its stunning tropical beaches, elegant Buddhist temples, delectable street food, and exotic nightlife. When you think of Thailand in terms of budget airlines, you probably think about Thai AirAsia, but a much smaller, lesser-known airline also fills the market. That airline is Nok Air. In Southeast Asia, Nok Air is known for its vibrant and unusual paint scheme on its fleet of 22. In Thai, ‘Nok’ means bird, hence the airline’s many bird-themed liveries. Nok Air has a frequent flyer membership club called ‘Nok Fan Club’.

Credit: (A Nok Air 737-800)

Early Years

Nok Air was established in February 2004, initially registered as Sky Asia Limited, but then changed its name to Nok Air soon after. As Nok Air is a budget airline, it selected Bangkok Don Muang Airport as the main hub, which serves mainly regional routes. The airline started by operating the 737-400 in 2005, it then expanded to flying the ATR 72-500 aircraft, the ATR fleet was used for domestic flights within the country and neighboring countries such as Myanmar. In 2013, the airline entered Thailand’s stock exchange. The 737-400 fleet was flown until 2015 when it was replaced with an arrangement of 737-800 planes as they were aging rapidly. In 2016, Nok Air became a founding member of the Value Alliance, along with Jeju Air, FlyScoot, Cebu Pacific, and Cebgo Air. Nok Air has become a loss-ridden airline in 2016, its fleet was downsized and a new CEO was appointed. In 2020 Nok Air filed for bankruptcy.

2021 Onwards

Credit: Skytrax (Nok Air interior)

In 2019 Wutthipum Jurangkool was given the role of CEO and executive director of the airline, he represented the Jurangkool family (the largest stakeholder in the airline) and has experience in pulling businesses out of the red zone. Thai Airways International is the second-largest stakeholder of the airline and many consider Nok Air as a Thai Airways subsidiary airline. Nok Air briefly started a larger airline with Singapore’s Scoot Air called NokScoot which unfortunately collapsed because of the lack of funding during COVID-19 in July 2020.

Nok Air operates a fleet of 14 737-800 aircraft and 8 De Havilland Canada DHC 8- Q400s with seats configured in only economy class. Although it brands itself as a budget airline, WiFi is available on board most of its aircraft, and complimentary bottles of water are given out during the flight. As of 2021, Skytrax rates Nok Air as a certified 3-Star Airline.


Credit: (A Nok Air route map)

As of 2022 Nok Air flies both domestic and international routes. Operating out of Bangkok Don Muang International Airport, Nok Air operates 24 domestic routes within Thailand, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, and Surat Thani. International Destinations include Ho Chi Minh City- Vietnam, Yangon -Myanmar, Nanjing- China, and Hiroshima-Japan.


  • Nok Air
  • Simple flying
  • Wikipedia
  • Skytrax

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