HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Skal International continues its good work in Chiang Mai

THAI looking ahead

Nok Air gives itself three months to settle in

Chiang Rai governor envisions cable car to Myanmar and Laos

Skal International continues its good work in Chiang Mai

Michael Vogt

Although the Skal International Club of North Thailand is currently not operational (hopefully a temporary situation), the club is still able to honor some of its pledges through the National Committee of Skal International Thailand.

One of the projects committed to several years ago was to provide funds to support the education of Miss Ananya Jumpasi, through the Sem Pringpuankeo Foundation. Since the Skal International Club of North Thailand still had funds available (being held by the Skal International National Committee), the club was able to donate 18,000 baht to cover her further education in vocational college for the next two years.

David Thomas (3rd right) of the Skal International National Executive Committee presents a cheque, on behalf of the former Skal International Club of North Thailand, to Uraiwan Pakkasem (Dr. Sem Pringpuankeo Foundation), with Michael Vogt (active Skal member), Margaret Bhadungzong and Marc Dumur (both past presidents of Skal International North Thailand), and staff of the Sem Pringpuankeo Foundation.

This young girl is one of 1047 children assisted by the Sem Pringpuangkeo Foundation, which, in conjunction with the Toyota Thailand Foundation, launched the Foster Parents Project in 1995.

This cooperation was brought about following the spread of AIDS in Thailand since 1989, which has had a significant impact on Thai society and families. Much of the mortality comes from the six upper northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao and Mae Hong Son. Once the parents lose their lives to AIDS, the burden of raising these children would usually fall on their grandparents or relatives who have far too low standard income. This is where the Foster Parents Project comes in.

THAI looking ahead

Acquiring modern, high technology aircraft

At their recent board meeting, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announced that they plan to acquire 14 new aircraft to fulfill their future direction.

Kanok Abhiradee (fifth from right), THAI president, welcomes Sontaya Khunplome (4th from left) minister of tourism and sports, during the airline’s “Low Season Marketing Strategy” meeting. Also present were representatives from the Tourism Council of Thailand, Thailand Hotel Association, and Asia Pacific Tourism Promotion Association.

THAI’s board of directors approved the long term fleet plan 2005/06-2009/10 to accommodate the company’s continued growth and effectively compete in the airline industry. The long term fleet plan is part of their corporate strategy to become the region’s leading carrier by acquiring modern, high technology aircraft, equipped with state of the art in-flight products and entertainment systems.

The plan includes six super long-range aircraft equipped with 500 seats, one super long-range medium size aircraft, and seven long-range medium size aircraft, a total of 14 new aircraft.

THAI’s long term fleet plan will support the airline’s competitive marketing plan by network expansion and strong product, utilizing super long range aircraft serving intercontinental destinations. In addition, the super long-range medium size aircraft will be used on routes to the United States with an increase in flight frequency as well.

The long-range medium size aircraft will be mainly operated on flights to Australia.

THAI’s board of directors has approved the following management appointments: Vasing Kittikul, executive vice president for customer services, as executive vice president for commercial.

Flg. Officer Chinawut Naressaenee, executive vice president standards and general administration as executive vice president for customer services, effective as of October 1, 2004.

Nok Air gives itself three months to settle in

Air travel within all our reaches?

Marion Vogt

Until a short while ago budget or no frills airlines were non existent in Thailand. Then suddenly the competition started with three new airlines serving the Chiang Mai route, all successfully. Newcomer Nok Air (‘Nok’ in Thai means bird) proudly boasts 80 percent bookings throughout the first month of operation.

Kanok Abhiradee, president of THAI and Patee Sarasin, CEO Nok Air express what they think about the future of Nok Air.

What is the history and who are those behind Nok Air? The name Nok Air is registered under Sky Asia Co., Ltd., a joint venture between public and private investors. Sky Asia is the operations company with its Chairman being Dr. Chirayu Isarngkun Na Ayuthaya.

Principal shareholders include THAI International Public Company Ltd, the Crown Property Bureau, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank and other individual investors.

Kanok Abhiradee, president of THAI International spoke on the involvement between THAI and Nok Air. “There is a close relationship between Nok and THAI as we have blessed this scheme from the very first step. Initially it was put up as a primary project, providing back-up in regards of maintenance, where THAI is the service provider, leaving marketing completely to the Nok management team. With THAI taking care of safety, consumers can rely on Nok Air aircraft complying fully with the same safety standard as THAI. Its current aircraft are all leased from us with highly experienced crews. I would be disappointed if it would not work out. Let’s talk again after the first three months.”

Dr. Chirayu Isarngkun Na Ayuthaya also said that the next three month will show if they have reached the people who never used to travel before. He was happy with the level of competition, as he said no competition would be very unhealthy, but with good competitors everybody will stay alert which is for the good of everyone.

Patee Sarasin, chief executive officer of Nok Air, also saw no conflict of interest in the shared board of THAI and Nok Air. Patee said, “We work closely together with THAI but we are an independent company already thinking about expansion. We could only lease three aircraft from THAI, but we have spoken to Boeing and three to five more aircraft are under consideration. Families will now have more opportunities for reunion and business travelers will now be able to pay more sensible prices for airfares. In terms of flight operations Nok Air will be flying to all parts of Thailand, with Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Udon Thani, and Phuket as planned destinations during 2004. We try very hard to add value to our passengers. Nok Plus is an example of how we offer this value. Nok Plus seats are business class, 12 seats, offered on each flight at 500 baht on top of the fare price. Nok Air is the only low cost airline in Asia to offer business class seat at an affordable price.”

Chiang Rai governor envisions cable car to Myanmar and Laos

Will it get off the ground?

Worachat Kongkaew, Public Relations Department

The Chiang Rai governor has plans for a cable car system across the borders to Myanmar and Laos in the Chiang Saen district.

Governor Narin Panitchakit called a meeting with the heads of government offices, district officers of Chiang Saen, and relevant agencies such as the Wiang, Chiang Saen Tambon Administration Organization, Customs, Immigration, and Public Works, to put his ideas into motion.

He said this meeting was a preparatory step to accelerate the development of Chiang Rai province to become ‘the Golden Gate of Lanna culture and international trade, with the land of Thai beauty and tourism potential’.

This follows PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s visit to Chiang Rai on July 19, when he agreed with guidelines to construct a cable car system linking the three countries. It should not exceed 180 million baht.

Governor Narin said that the private sector would be the main investor, and provincial authorities would collect fees to pay off the project within five years.

If it is constructed, the tourism potential should increase. The Burmese authorities have agreed to the idea in principle, but a reaction from Laos is still awaited.

The construction would begin at the Thai side at Ban Sobruak, in the Golden Triangle area, to be linked with Triangle Island, at Paradise Hotel inside Myanmar, a distance of about 50 meters. It will cross the Mekong River to connect with Laos over a distance of about 1,400 meters.

Construction work would take about two years to complete, the governor said.