Fernandes drops Myanmar project


BANGKOK, 17 May 2018: Talks between AirAsia Group and a potential airline partner in Myanmar “have stopped”, the group’s chief executive told reporters on Tuesday, according to a Reuters’ report.

Last March, during an event in Sydney Australia, AirAsia Group’s chief executive, Tony Fernandes, said the group was in talks with a potential partner to open an airline serving Myanmar, which would help the low-cost carrier to cover up to 95% of the Southeast Asian travel market.

But Fernandes told reporters at an AirAsia event in Bangkok earlier this week the talks were now off.

“Negotiations have stopped. We are not moving ahead with Myanmar at the moment,” he said.

It won’t be the last word on the subject considering Fernandes’ ambitions in regional aviation.

It is possible that the fact Malaysia and Myanmar are the only two ASEAN nations not to have signed a bilateral visa-free agreement would deter an investor like AirAsia that relies on easy travel as cited in its popular slogan “now everyone can fly.”

Or the Myanmar government’s rules that protect locally owned airlines became an obstacle.

Last March, Fernandes declined to identify the potential partner, but dropped a few oblique hints.

“It’s not going to be a big airline there, because the airport infrastructure is not there. But the nation has 50 million people and it will develop over time,” said Fernandes, who was in Sydney for the meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He added: “We had a good meeting with someone in Sydney – he’s got a good airline that we’ve known for a long time and he is a well-respected guy. We’re going through that process.”

The lack of clarity on the potential partner, didn’t stop social media netizens from throwing in their insights on possible candidates.

In minutes of Reuters’ March story, Myanmar watcher and travel consultant, Jaffee Yee, posted on his Facebook page that he was “quite sure” the potential partner was FMI Air claiming its owner, Serge Pun, founded the one airline in Myanmar that has an international outlook on business, is well-respected and politically beyond reproach.

(Source: Reuters)