Feb 15, 2012

Budget carrier plans Myanmar expansion

Budget carrier AirAsia is “very keen” to launch flights linking Bagan and Mandalay with Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, its founder and chief executive officer said last week.

Mr Tony Fernandes revealed he had already proposed the route to the government at a meeting with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry on February 6.

“We are looking at flights from Kuala Lumpur to Mandalay, which have never been done before … and we would like to fly from Thailand to Bagan.”

“We already proposed to fly Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Mandalay-Bagan-Kuala Lumpur-last month. We are not sure when we can start flying but we want to implement this within three months,” he said.

Mr Fernandes was in Myanmar as part of an ASEAN Business Club delegation that also met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Soe Thein, the minister for industry and head of the Myanmar Investment Commission.

U Thet Lwin Toe, vice chairman of Union of Myanmar Travel Association (UMTA), expressed support for the proposal but said Bagan’s runway and airport facilities were not up to international standards.

“However, we need more international flights and it would be more efficient for our tourism industry if these flights could be arranged,” he said.

He also pointed out there were just 4000 hotel rooms in Mandalay so direct flights would likely strain the city’s hotel capacity.

However, it would save money for travellers and also ease the shortage of hotel rooms in Yangon, he said.
Last year, Air Asia carried about 270,000 people to and from Yangon. The airline began operations in Myanmar in 2006 with daily flights between Yangon and Bangkok and added a flight from Kuala Lumpur in 2010.

Based in Malaysia, AirAsia flies to every country in Southeast Asia and in December celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Source: Myanmar Times