Airline increases fleet, builds Koh Phangan island airport
Kan Air, a Thai commuter airline founded by a debt-collecting firm, is embarking on an aggressive growth plan including a major fleet expansion and building an airport in southern Thailand.
The airline has recently acquired its first jet, the Beechcraft Premier I light aircraft. It may also lease two ATR 42 turboprops and two Embraer ERJ 145 regional jets, while it is advancing construction of an airport on Koh Phangan.
The plan represents the boldest move since Kan Air, or Kannithi Aviation, was launched in 2010 as an offshoot of Kannithi Co, which was established in 2005 to provide debt management services and litigation in hire-purchase cases, mostly involving cars.
Kan Air is spending 700 million baht to build an airport on Koh Phangan, the island famous for its full moon parties and as a backpackers’ destination, located in Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand.
Construction is in full swing and, when the airport is up and running in the second half of next year, it will provide for the first time direct air access to Koh Phangan’s larger sister island Koh Samui to the south and the smaller Koh Tao to the north.
The airport will support Kan Air’s plan to cash in on new air routes.
Koh Phangan can only be accessed by a 30-minute ferry ride from Koh Samui, where Bangkok Airways operates frequent flights to and from Bangkok.
Samui airport was built and is run by Bangkok Airways, which has almost exclusive use of the facility.
Kan Air plans to introduce regular flights between Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport and Koh Phangan.
It is considering leasing two European-made ATR 42 turboprops, each capable of carrying 50 people, to operate three 80-minute flights a day on the route, said Somphong Sooksanguan, president of Kan Air and owner of Kannithi Co.
The airport, with a 1,100-metre runway and thatched-roof terminal, is located on the eastern side of Koh Phangan.
Because of its relatively short runway, the airport is not required to have an environmental impact assessment that may take a long time and subject the development to opponents, Mr Somphong said.
Kan Air is also discussing the lease of two Brazilian-made Embraer ERJ 145 jets, each with 50 seats, to support its plan to expand its network through its new hub of Don Mueang in addition to its current base in Chiang Mai.
It aims to launch two new routes from Don Mueang _ two daily flights to Phitsanulok and Khon Kaen _ in January.
The airline currently operates scheduled flights from Chiang Mai to Nan, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok and Khon Kaen with its sole Cessna Grand Caravan, a single-engine propeller aircraft with 12 seats.
Kan Air acquired a Beechcraft Premier I, the US-made corporate jet capable of carrying eight passengers over a range of more than 2,500km.
The 70-million-baht jet, acquired through a lease arranged by Phatra Leasing Plc from a Dusseldorf owner, will be used mainly for charter flights for the Bangkok Hospital Group.
Kan Air signed a memorandum of understanding with the group to use the jet as an air ambulance for hospital patients. The jet is expected to start serving the group next month.
The aircraft, registered in 2002, is stored at MJets’ hangar at Don Mueang airport.
Mr Somphong said the Koh Phangan airport would be open to other operators, with the same parking and landing fees as at Suvarnabhumi airport.