Myanmar aviation slows a mite

YANGON, 11 March 2019: Myanmar’s aviation market suffered a slowdown in growth in 2018 following a decade of positive passenger traffic.

International passenger traffic growth shrunk to 2%, which was close to the 3% growth rate in tourist arrivals reported by the country’s Hotels and Tourism Ministry.

Propping up travel and aviation, China delivered a massive increase in tourist arrivals in 2018 and that trend is likely to persist this year.

A liberal visa policy introduced in late 2018 is driving the gains from China, a policy that immediately encouraged Chinese airlines to introduce new routes to Yangon and Mandalay from major cities in China.

The latest project to improve airport infrastructure will see the opening of Surbung Airport in Falam township, Chin State, in September 2020 to support tourism and make travel for Chin State residents more convenient, according to Department of Civil Aviation deputy director general, U Ye Htut Aung.

Construction got underway in 2016 and was scheduled to open at the earliest by 2021.

However, Myanmar Times reported last week that State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint gave instructions for construction to be completed in 2020 and that it should be open for commercial flights in September of the same year.

Construction has been completed on the airport’s runway, taxiway and terminal according to the Myanmar Times.

An additional budget is needed to install flight control systems, radar and runway lights.

There are nine townships in Chin State and overland travel is difficult during the heavy monsoon season. The nearest airport is at Kalay in Sagaing Region.

Chin State is located in western Myanmar and borders Sagaing and Magway regions to the east, Rakhine State to the south, Bangladesh to the southwest, and the Indian states of Mizoram to the west and Manipur to the north.

A mountainous state, it lacks air links and has a population of less than 500,000.