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Bangkok airways historically were the only carrier to fly to Koh Samui private airport. Although in recent times the price of the fares have been a topic of hot debate, it is undeniable that they played a large part in promoting Koh Samui as a tourist destination an opened the island up to visitors who were not prepared to take a long overnight bus or train journey down from Bangkok. With routs all over the world now Samui has never been more accessible and several carriers now use the airport but how did it all being?
Bangkok Airways was established in 1968 as Sahakol Air and operated an air-taxi service, with a two engine 9 seater plane “Trade Wind” under contract from Overseas International Construction Company, an American company, United States Operations Mission (USOM) and a number of other organizations engaged in oil and natural gas exploration.
In 1986 it began scheduled services and became the first privately owned domestic airline in Thailand that re-branded to become Bangkok Airways in 1989. In 1986 the airline offered scheduled flights from Bangkok to Krabi, Korat and Surin.
The airline is owned by Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth who has a 92.31 stake, Sahakol Estate, Bangkok Dusit Medical services and some other small scale shareholders own the rest of the shares. The airline owns subsidy airline Siem Reap Airways and has over 1900 employees.
Bangkok Airways built its own airport that opened in 1989. In 1996 the airline opened a second airport at Sukhothai Province and in March 2003 it opened a third airport in Trat Province to serve the every growing tourism industry in Koh Chang.
Until the year 2000 Bangkok airways flew propeller driven aircraft, primarily the ATR-72. It had also operated the De Havilland Canada Dash 8 and the Shorts 330 as well as a Fokker F100, in 2000 the fleet saw the addition of Boeing 717’s and in 2004 the Airbus 320.
Bangkok Airways has a very good safety record and according to the Aviation Safety Network has 3 occurrences in their database. On 07 December 1987 a Hawker Siddeley HS-784-243 Srs was damaged beyond repair when it overran the runway on landing at Udon Thani Airport. The fuselage was moved to the Mekon Hotel, Nong Khai, it was later moved to Jomtien in 2002 and marked as ZS-ABG by February 2003. There were no fatalities.
On the 21st of November 1990 a DHC-8-103 left Bangkok at 09.58 with IFR clearance to Samui. The Samui Tower was contacted at 10.45 and the crew were told runway 17 was the active runway and the weather was fair with rain southwest of the field. Wind was later reported at 030 deg/ 10 knots and the runway was changed to number 35. On base leg for runway 35 the flight continued ahead instead of turning right for finals. A missed approach procedure was executed with flaps still fully extended and both pilots were confused about which way to go. The tower instructed them to turn left to avoid the mountain on the right hand side. BKP 125 had entered an area of heavy rain and rolled to the left. Both pilots were disorientated as the aircraft continued to descent in a left wing down attitude. The aircraft eventually impacted in a coconut plantation doing 147 knots, 36 ded nose down and 75deg left roll. Factors attributed to the accident were bad weather with little visual reference, pilots being focused on looking at the airport and neglecting to do the proper cross checking and pilot confusion. All five crew were killed in the accident along with all thirty three passengers. Among the passengers were one infant, 3 Thai nationals, five Japanese nationals and a first Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, Hiroshi Enomata.
The third and final incident happened on 4th of August 2009 when an ATR-72-212 skidded off the runway in Koh Samui and collided with the airport control tower building. Only one pilot was killed, the plane was written off as beyond repair.
Today the airline offers scheduled flights over 20 different major routs covering nearly all of the major destinations in Thailand and has permits to fly internationally to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh and the Maldives.
In 2004, Bangkok Airways celebrated its 36th anniversary and unveiled its brand new campaign, “ASIA’SBOUTIQUE AIRLINE; Exclusive Service to Exotic Gems”. Aimed at strengthen Bangkok Airways’ goals and to define the pillars of its brand.
The airline distinguishes itself with five main pillars that define its initiative –
Boutique lounge that are similar to business class lounges for all passengers with free snacks and hot and cold drinks, internet access and children’s corners.
The Blue Ribbon Club lounges to serve premium passengers that are extravagant in design and serve hot meals and provide personal shower rooms.
Boutique airports with unique architecture.
Exclusive Service offering the personal touches to passengers from the time they book their tickets until the safe arrival at their destination.
Bangkok Airways has vested in Aerothai, a company with a long track record in the aviation industry, to manage air traffic control at Samui, Sukhothai, and Trat Airport. Its objective is the provision of safe, expeditious, and orderly flow of air traffic.
Aerothai’s air traffic control system covers a radius of 35 nautical miles and up to an altitude of 11,000 feet from each airport. The Meteorology Department also installed its high-tech weather equipment at all airports to give Bangkok Airways up-to-date weather information.
Bangkok Airways is “E-ticket Ready” for both domestic and international flight routes.
On November 2002, Bangkok Airways launched its own fast and efficient e-ticketing service. Passengers may now book flights online at: http://www.bangkokair.com.
Since June 29, 2003, e-ticketing service covers nationwide and is readily available through all Bangkok Airways’ ticketing offices as well. Authorized travel agents in Thailand are also able to issue e-tickets for Bangkok Airways’ flights, thus bringing a fast and convenient travel experience for passengers no matter where they book.
In September 2008, Bangkok Airways began “Web Check-in” service for passengers travelling from its key domestic routes. The service enables passengers to easily check-in online and select their preferred seat as early as 24 hours prior departure, by clicking on “Web Check-in” at www.bangkokair.com. Passengers simply take printed boarding pass to the designated counter to for quick ID verification and baggage check (if need be).
The airline initially offers Web Check-in service to passengers who fly from Bangkok, Samui and Phuket to other domestic destinations and will apply the service to its other destinations in the near future.
What do you think of Bangkok Airways? And are you happy to hear that a new airport is on the horizon in Koh Phangan? Do you think Bangkok Airways is overpriced? Or do you make use of others services from Surat Thani such as Air Aisa when flying to Bangkok? Let us know you thoughts by mailing the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org or posting your comments below this article.