Jun 6, 2013

AirAsia eyes Myanmar skies

AirAsia, the region's biggest budget airline, plans to carry as much as 30% of tourists visiting Myanmar as the Southeast Asian economy opens up for foreign investment and leisure travel.

The carrier is targetting to move 500,000 passengers this year to the country, Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Groups chief executive officer, said in an interview in Myanmar. The Southeast Asian nation may have about 3 million tourists this year, he said.

"We want 20% to 30% of that pie," Mr Fernandes said.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has allowed more political freedom and loosened economic controls since coming to power two years ago, prompting the United States and other nations to ease sanctions and attracting companies. The opening up will help add to growth at Sepang, Malaysia-based AirAsia, which has ordered more than 300 aircraft from Airbus SAS as economic growth in the region spurs travel.

AirAsia has three daily flights connecting Bangkok with Yangon, and one daily service between the Thai capital and Mandalay. The airline on Wednesday said it will fly from Bangkok to Nay Pyi Taw daily starting in October.

Mr Fernandes said further plane orders depend on the company's board.

"Certainly we can," Mr Fernandes said. "Whether we can do or not will have to wait and see and the board will have to look at it. The demand is there and we have to make sure that the demand is kept."

Source: Bangkok Post