Enough airline capacity to serve Myanmar

YANGON, 20 August 2018: Travellers visiting in Myanmar can rely on around seven airlines to offer competent domestic services to tourist destinations across the country.

Fielding questions from TTR Weekly as a follow up to an earlier report ‘Myanmar loses airlines’, a Myanmar Tourism Marketing spokesperson identified seven airlines that are “definitely operating scheduled services.”

Officially there are 10 airlines registered to operate commercial domestic services of which three have suspended operations, either in 2017, or more recently this year.

As the October to March peak season approaches, tour operators are booking clients on Air Kanbawza, Mann Yadanarpon, Yangon Airways, Air Mandalay, Golden Myanmar Airlines, Myanmar National Airlines and Asian Wings Airways  They cover all domestic tourist destinations in Myanmar.

MTM said that despite the recent flight suspensions “airline capacity is enough to handle all international tourists as well as domestic tourists throughout the year.”

MTM also noted luxury air-conditioned busses operat services between Yangon and popular tourist destination such as Mandalay and Bagan.

Despite local media reports suggesting Asia Wings Airways had suspended flights, the airline forwarded its latest scheduled to tour operators last week.

It is definitely operating a service to Kyauk Phyu possibly through guaranteed seats, or even a charter arrangement with companies. The town is a base for oil companies and is the site of a planned deep-sea port.

Tour operators also confirmed Air Mandalay flies daily to Myitkyina and Tachileik.

There is strong demand for domestic travellers on these two routes. Most domestic travellers pay cash for their tickets a few days ahead of their flight dates. Very little traffic is generated by airline websites and computerised reservation systems are more costly to set-up and have higher booking fees.

The aviation market is still very traditional using Yangon-based tour operators to book hotels and airline travel for foreign guests, while domestic travellers use local ticketing agencies, or pay cash for tickets at airline ticketing offices.

Recent news reports confirmed Apex Airlines and FMI Air suspended all services during July, while Bagan Air ended services much earlier in 2017.

Myanmar’s registered airlines have a nation-wide fleet of around 60 aircraft, split between 10 companies.

Myanmar National Airlines, the country’s national carrier, launched a new service linking Yangon and Phuket in March and within two months dropped the service claiming traffic was insufficient. It hopes to reinstate the twice-weekly service this October.

Last April, it also joined forces with another domestic airline, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, to create what it called the ‘Myanmar Sky Alliance’.

The commercial partnership started last May and combines the two networks to offer 13 domestic destinations served by ATR72s.