MAI confirms expansion
BANGKOK, 15 August 2012: Myanmar Airways International will take delivery of two more Airbus A320s and plans new routes, including a Mandalay-Bangkok service this October. It may also reintroduce flights that were suspended.
According to MAI country manager, Thailand and Cambodia, Ye Jhan, the national airline will add two more A320 aircraft to its present fleet of four to support network expansion.
It is looking to acquire a turboprop ATR aircraft to commence services to Vientiane. But he said the airline would not be able to receive the aircraft in time to commence the Vientiane services in the coming winter schedule as previously planned.
The confirmed new routes are Mandalay-Bangkok and Yangon-Hong Kong.
Earlier this month, Thai AirAsia announced it will fly to Mandalay four times a week from 4 October.
The demand for more air links to other cities other than Yangon had been advocated especially to serve the leisure market. After Myanmar opened its doors to investors and the West lifted sanctions the demand for business travel tripled. It caused substantial increases in hotel rates of up to 300%.
Outside the capital hotel rates have increased, but not on the scale seen in Yangon. Hotel development projects are going on in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan to alleviate the supply shortage, but it will take up to three years for them to come online.
A service to Hong Kong should be introduced by mid-December starting with three flights weekly.
In the winter timetable, the carrier is planning to resume operations on the Bangkok-Singapore route with daily flights. They were suspended 18 April last year, due to an imbalance in traffic. It proved difficult to gain traffic out of Singapore to Bangkok due to tough competition, although leisure traffic out of Bangkok was positive.
Mr Ye Jhan said this time the carrier would try to set effective sales plan on Singapore-Bangkok sector.
From 1 October, MAI will resume its Yangon-Phnom Penh route with three weekly flights, but has not yet decided whether to include a stop in Siem Reap in one direction as previously operated.
Frequencies on other routes are under review such as the seasonal pilgrimage service to Gaya in India, Guangzhou in China and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The airline continues to maintain a twice daily service to Bangkok.
In addition, according to the local newspaper, Myanmar Times, two companies plan to start up new airlines.
One of the companies, Golden Myanmar Airlines, has approached the Department of Civil Aviation to begin operations in early 2013.
“We established a company with shareholders that include U Khin Maung Aye, chairman of CB Bank, and some other business people. We are not ready to say anything more about our plans, but we will make an official announcement later this month,” a director from the new company told The Myanmar Times.
“We expect to launch in early January 2013 and we will fly both domestic and international routes,” he said.
“We haven’t decided the destinations and the kind of aircraft we will use. It is also not sure whether we will base ourselves in Yangon or Mandalay to operate domestic and international flights. We will announce details in late August,” he said.
Industry rumours suggested the other new airline will be called Ayeyarwady Airways. It will probably have the backing of U Zaw Zaw’s Max Myanmar Group of Companies. However, a senior official from the company said the rumour was baseless.
Local press, in Yangon, claimed a source close to senior figures in the domestic airline industry said both airlines plan to base themselves in Mandalay to operate domestic and regional routes.