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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:08 PM   #1
AsianDragons
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Myanmar Aviation News



Myanmar's international air links
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Old June 1st, 2010, 02:14 PM   #2
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Outlook bright for tourism industry: MMC
By Zaw Win Than and Pan Eiswe Star
May 24 - 30, 2010
FOREIGN travellers are coming back to Myanmar and the outlook for the industry is positive, a leading tourism body said last week.

At the annual general meeting of the Myanmar Marketing Committee, an organisation of tourism industry companies, memb-ers heard that tourist arrivals have recovered from a series of setbacks in 2007-8.

Recent positive developments included the introduction of direct Vietnam Airlines flights between Hanoi and Yangon, the Air Bagan service to Chiang Mai, the launch of upgraded railway facilities by Myanma Railways to Bagan and, most recently, the introduction of a genuine visa on arrival system.

The MMC has also taken steps to boost the local industry, committee chairperson Daw Su Su Tin told the May 14 meeting.
“We have initiated plans to organise Myanmar Inter-national Tourism Exchange Yangon (MITEY), where we will host a tourism show to showcase Myanmar’s various attractions that visitors can explore with ease and affordable value,” she said.

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism director general U Htay Aung said the visa on arrival system, which was introduced at the start of May, would provide a further boost to tourist arrival figures. “Arrivals in 2009 were up by 25 percent compared to 2008. The new visa-on-arrival system is very useful for future tourism in Myanmar, though we still need to improve the service,” he said.

MMC organised several fundraising activities in 2009-2010, including a fun run, musical, golf tournament and sports day.
Daw Su Su Tin said with the strong support of sponsors and industry colleagues, their project team successfully raised the funds required to continue with industry promotion activities. Further expenditure on marketing and promotion would attract more tourists to the country, she said.

Members elected Dr Aung Myat Kyaw as chairman, U Phyoe Wai Yarzar as vice chairman, Daw Phyu Phyu Mar as secretary, and Daw Rita Myint as treasurer

http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/travel/524/travel001.html
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 09:54 AM   #3
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Tay Za's Air Bagan Gets a Rival

Burmese businessman Aung Ko Win, owner of the Kanbawza Bank, has formed a domestic airline that is expected to compete directly with Tay Za's Air Bagan, according to the Rangoon weekly Myanmar Post.

Quoting Rangoon travel agency sources, the journal said the new airline would be named Air Inlay

Aung Ko Win, also known as Saya Kyaung, is a longtime associate of the junta's No 2, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye. When Maung Aye was the commander of the Eastern Regional Military Command in Taunggyi, southern Shan State, Aung Ko Win was a main supplier of goods for the regional command headquarters. He also owns a soccer club, Kanbawza FC.

Business sources in Rangoon say the family of Minister of Industry-1 Aung Thaung is also involved in the new airline.

Aung Thaung's son Pyi Aung is married to Maung Aye's daughter Nandar Aye. Pyi Aung and his brother Nay Aung are directors of IGE Co Ltd and are said to be even wealthier than Burma's reputedly richest tycoon, Tay Za.

IGE Co Ltd is a supplier of substation and transmission line materials, oil and gas, as well as running CNG filling stations for government projects and the recently licensed Amara Bank.

“Since early May, IGE has been looking for new staff who have graduated in business administration for the new airline, offering good pay,” said a Rangoon businessman who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to The Myanmar Post, Air Inlay will use aircraft from Myanmar Airways International (MAI). Earlier this year, Kanbawza Bank bought an 80 percent stake in MAI.

Air Inlay will have to compete with Tay Za's Air Bagan. Tay Za is close to the junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe and his family, who have invested heavily in the tycoon's group of Htoo companies, which include Air Bagan.

While Than Shwe’s family is closely involved in Tay Za’s business interests, Maung Aye’s family members are associated with IGE, Kanbawza Bank and their sister companies.

But not only the families of the two top generals are involved in big business. The sons of the junta's No. 3, Gen Shwe Mann—Aung Thet Mann and Toe Naing Mann—are also active within Tay Za’s group of Htoo companies.

Another tycoon, Zaw Zaw of Max Myanmar Co Ltd, is close to the junta secretary 1 Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo, who is also Quartermaster-General of the armed forces, according to businessmen in Rangoon. Tin Aung Myint Oo’s son, Nay Lin Oo, is also a successful businessman.

The junta’s budget holder, Lt-Gen Tin Aye, the chief of Military Ordnance and head of the military-run Union of Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd also has a businessman son, Zaw Min Aye, who is involved in media and export-import businesses. He was controversially granted an executive copyright for publicizing and televising the 2010 World Cup

http://www.irrawaddy.org/highlight.php?art_id=18597
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Old June 6th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #4
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100 houses relocated for airport

Around one hundred families in Burma’s northern Sagaing division have been told to relocate to make way for the extension of a nearby airport.

Residents of Kalay town in Sagaing division told DVB that local authorities are distributing compensation forms to those set for relocation. One man said that most residents were unhappy about moving, and complained that the compensation wouldn’t enable them to build a new house.

“Some huts [being relocated] will only be compensated 140,000 kyat [$US140],” he said. He added that families in two-storey houses would be compensated 1.7 million kyat ($US1,700), “and these days you can’t really build a two-storey house with that amount of money”.

He said that the residents were also concerned about the monsoon season and lack of fresh water, while parents didn’t want to move their children so soon after school opened.

Affected residents are being moved to a 35-acre patch of farmland near Taungpela village, close to Kalay. The man said that authorities were preparing the land for housing and roads without acknowledging its owners.

The area of farmland is owned separately by seven people whom the Burmese government offered compensation of one million kyat ($US1,000). The landowners however rejected the offer, claiming that one acre is valued at three million kyat ($US3,000). Despite this, one landowner said that authorities were going ahead with the preparation.

“We can’t buy new land with the amount of compensation they offered; it is 2.5 million kyat [$US2,500] for land suitable to grow crops,” she said. “We have submitted an appeal [to the government] to let us stay and work on this land. It is rainy season now and we should be scattering seeds.”

She added that there would be swathes of extra space on the land given that 116 houses would not fill 35 acres. “One acre of land can provide space for about 10 houses, so 35 acres will make about 350. [The authorities] will take the extra spaces,” she said.

The government first approached the Kalay locals over the relocation in 2007 but were continually rejected. But in April this year authorities began laying out red flags on the land to signify the area they would appropriate

http://www.dvb.no/news/100-houses-re...r-airport/9246
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Old June 14th, 2010, 11:39 AM   #5
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AirAsia to fly to Yangon July 20, from RM29
Published: 2010/06/14

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is extending its route network to another Southeast Asian country, with direct daily flights to Yangon, Myanmar, from July 20.

To celebrate the introduction of the new route, the airline is offering all-in-fares for Kuala Lumpur – Yangon, from as low as RM29 one way.

"Booking starts from June 14 to June 20, for the travel period of July 20 to May 8, 2011.

"Promotional seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis and made exclusively online via www.airasia.com," AirAsia said in a statement today.

The new route will be serviced by a Airbus A320 aircraft with a 180 passenger capacity.

"Myanmar will see a big boost in tourist entries with this direct daily flight from Kuala Lumpur to Yangon.

"Customers from Europe, China, India, Australia and around the Asean region utilising our Kuala Lumpur hub now, have a more affordable option to travel to Myanmar," AirAsia's regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan said.

AirAsia’s foray into Myanmar completes the 10 countries under the Asean network.

The low-cost carrier now flies to Yangon from its Bangkok hub with daily flights. -- Bernama
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:15 PM   #6
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http://www.mmtimes.com/

Yangon flight schedules
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Last edited by AsianDragons; June 23rd, 2010 at 06:09 AM.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 06:10 AM   #7
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more exact
http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/flight/flight.html
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Old June 24th, 2010, 11:25 AM   #8
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Introduction of visa-on-arrival raises tourist arrivals in Myanmar

The introduction of visa-on-arrival system in Myanmar has raised the number of tourist arrivals in the country, sources with the Union of Myanmar Travel Association said on Thursday.

The tourist arrivals at the Yangon International Airport in May reached 17,230, up nearly 27 percent correspondingly, the sources said, adding that visitors from Asian countries especially from China and South Korea increased during the month.

Myanmar has so far received a total of 121,522 foreign visitors in the first five months of 2010, it added.

Visa-on-arrival has been granted since last month at two main international airports of Yangon and Mandalay to facilitate world tourists who were previously required to apply for the entry by transiting through Singapore and Thailand where Myanmar embassies are based.

Normally, international travelers applying entry visas into Myanmar through Myanmar embassies abroad have to take four days in Beijing, 24 hours in Jakarta, five days in Paris and Tokyo, three days in London and two days in Bangkok and Singapore, according to the Myanmar Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, The Myanmar Marketing Committee (MMC) has not only planned domestic familiarization (FAM) package trips for international media persons and travel agencies but also will take part in the international travel fairs to be held in various countries this year to promote the country's tourism market.

According to the official statistics, tourists arrivals in Myanmar hit 227,400 in the calendar year of 2009, up 25 percent compared with 2008.

Source: Xinhua
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Old June 24th, 2010, 02:45 PM   #9
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Visa on Arrival is a fantastic thing...I don't know about their embassies in other countries, but getting a visa in Bangkok was such a pain that after 2 mornings of queueing there I ended up paying someone to do it for me, their whole embassy was full of travel agents with dozens of passports that needed processing. Ultimately, more tourism will be an excellent thing for Myanmar, both economically and politically...
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Old June 25th, 2010, 05:48 AM   #10
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Kanbawza quiet on Air Inle launch
By Zaw Win Than
June 21 - 27, 2010
A DEPARTMENT of Civil Aviation official said last week no formal application had been lodged to register a new domestic airline, despite reports in local media that a subsidiary of Kanbawza Group was preparing to enter the market.

“We still haven’t yet had an official submission for permission to operate a new domestic airline,” the spokesperson said on June 17.

A spokesperson for Kanbawza Group refused to comment, while other players in the domestic air industry also declined to discuss the proposed airline.

The Myanmar Post reported on May 25 that a new airline called Air Inle and operated by Kanbawza Bank Limited would fly to major domestic destinations using aircraft leased from Myanmar Airways International (MAI).

Despite the confusion about the new airline, the announcement was welcomed by tourism experts in Yangon, who said it was a positive development for the industry.

“I have heard about Air Inle but I don’t know any of the details, such as when it is going to launch. I think it is not yet finalised,” said a spokesperson from an air ticket agency in Yangon.

“We always welcome improvements in the transportation sector. As tour operators, we totally depend on domestic airlines,” said U Phyoe Wai Yar Zar, vice chairman of the Myanmar Marketing Committee. “And we definitely need to increase the carrying capacity of both the domestic and international airlines.” Air Inle would become the fifth domestic airline.

http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/news/528/news008.html
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Old June 27th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #11
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Burma Increases Airport Tax as Tourism Jumps

By WAI MOE


Burmese authorities will double the airport tax for foreigners and increase it six times for Burmese citizens, two months after a new visa on-arrival was unveiled to boost tourism.

The Department of Civil Aviation said on Wednesday that the airport passenger service charge will be increased to US $10 for each departing international passenger and 3,000 kyat ($3) for Burmese nationals starting on Thursday

According to travel agents in Rangoon, the current airport tax for foreigner is $5 and 500 kyat for Burmese. However, travel agents said that the visa on-arrival, which started on May 1, has increased foreign arrivals by an estimated 100 percent.

“Since the new visa regulations, tourism has been more developed,” said a travel agent staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

She estimated that “more than double the number of tourists now visit.”

Meanwhile, the London-based Cox & Kings global travel company said it will reintroduce tours to military-ruled Burma offering the first 13-day escorted trip leaving in October. The company previously withdrew from the country after Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said tourism would prolong military rule and human rights violations in Burma.

Cox & Kings said it changed its policy because Suu Kyi is reported to have said tourism should be encouraged if it is run through private firms with no link to the junta, according to Travel Trade Gazette.

Visas to Burma were tightly restricted through for nearly five decades following a military coup in 1962.

Foreigners who wanted to enter the country had to apply for a visa at a Burmese embassy and wait at least one week for approval, and they were frequently turned down.

“I visited Burma two years ago,” recalled one Canadian tourist. “I applied at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok. The embassy said I had to wait for a week. I couldn't wait, so I gave an agent money to get a visa in one day.”

According to a notice at the Burmese immigration office, a visa on-arrival is $30 for a 28-day, non-extendable visa; $40 for a 70-day, extendable business visa or a 28-day extendable social visa; and $18 for a 24-hour transit visa.

An individual must have a minimum of $300 and a family must have $600 to enter the country. The overstay fee for a tourist with a 28-day visa is $3 a day.

Burma’s visa on-arrival carries a limitation in that foreigners are restricted from going to certain areas of the country.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=18806
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Old June 28th, 2010, 09:54 AM   #12
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Myanmar private airlines to expand fleets for tourism

Yangon - Myanmar's two private airlines have announced plans to purchase new aircraft to service new routes in time for the coming peak tourism season, media reports said Sunday.

Both Air Bagan and Air Mandalay said they expand their limited fleets in time for the peak period of November to February, the Myanmar Times reported.

Air Bagan plans to buy two Airbus A-320s to service regional destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and two AIR 72-500 for its domestic routes.

'The company will purchase four new aircraft in time for the upcoming peak season but we haven't decided exactly when the new aircraft will be purchased and where they will be acquired from,' an Air Bagan spokesperson told the weekly newspaper.

Companies in Myanmar, a pariah state among most Western democracies, are sometimes prevented from making purchases by economic sanctions on the ruling military regime and private firms close to the generals.

Air Bagan currently has six aircraft in operation - two ATR-72s, two ATR-42s and two Fokker 100s - as well as two Airbus A-310s in storage at Yangon International Airport.

Air Mandalay reportedly announced plans to add two new ATR-72s to expand its domestic services.

Myanmar saw a 39 per cent jump in international tourist arrivals during the first three months of this year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
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Old June 28th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #13
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why does Air Bagan have two stored aircraft??? use them
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 04:07 AM   #14
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Tay Za to Form Proxy Airline

By WAI MOE


Burmese tycoon Tay Za is to establish a proxy airline company in order to avoid the US sanctions that have been imposed on his current airline, Air Bagan, according to business sources in Rangoon

The sources said that since Air Bagan was blacklisted by the US and other Western countries, it has faced problems transferring finances and has been denied insurance. To evade the restrictions, Tay Za has reportedly registered another airline company with the Burmese aviation authority and plans to buy more aircraft for domestic and international routes in that company's name.

“Businessmen here are saying that Tay Za’s new aviation company will likely be called 'Ever Win,'” said a business source who spoke to The Irrawaddy on condition of anonymity. “It is now in the registration process at the aviation authority. Tay Za’s new company would be officially under different ownership since his name is on the [Western countries'] sanctions list. However, the company will be run with his money.”

The US imposed sanctions on Tay Za and other associates of the ruling Burmese generals following the Burmese junta’s crackdown on mass demonstrations in September 2007. According to the blacklist issued by the US Department of the Treasury, two of Tay Za's family members, as well as his private companies including Htoo Trading Company, Air Bagan and his Singapore-based Pavo Trading Pte Ltd, are included in the sanctions.

In February 2008, the US extended its sanctions policy to include the Htoo Group of Companies, Myanmar Avia Export Co. Ltd, and Ayer Shwe Wah Co. Ltd, directed by Aung Thet Mann, the son of the junta No.3 Gen Shwe Mann.

“We are tightening financial sanctions against Tay Za, an arms dealer and financial henchman of Burma’s repressive junta,” said Adam J. Szubin, the director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, in a statement at the time.

Another allegation against Tay Za among the Burmese business community is that junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe’s family has financial stakes in his companies.

Tay Za is also the owner of one of Burma's major football clubs, Yangon United FC.

Despite the Western sanctions against Tay Za and other military cronies, Naypyidaw has recently granted several of them business opportunities in newly privatized state assets, including banks.

Private journals in Rangoon recently reported that Tay Za’s Air Bagan is to purchase two Airbus aircraft as it expands routes to neighborinAC countries, as well as purchasing two AIR 72-500 for domestic destinations. Both aviation makers are based in Europe

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=18826
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Old July 2nd, 2010, 04:16 AM   #15
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Myanmar to increase airport tax next month

The Myanmar aviation authorities will increase the airport tax of the Yangon International Airport to 3,000 Kyats (about 3 U.S. dollars), which is six times the previous rate of 500 kyats, starting July 1 this year, sources with airline industry said on Wednesday.

The new tax rate will be collected for Myanmar citizen passengers taking flights while the original tax rate of 10 dollars for foreign passenger remains unchanged, the sources said.

The raising of the airport tax is due to increased cost for installing new digital machines at the arrival and departure lounges for rapid service, it said.

The annual cost for such formalities is estimated at 300 million kyats (about 300,000 dollars).

Meanwhile, a Myanmar private company -- the Asia World -- will take over the ground handling service of the Yangon International Airport, an earlier report said.

Before the handover of the technical-related business by the airport authorities, two private airlines -- Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and Air Bagan are still handling the ground work.

Yangon International Airport was built in 1957 and the new terminal was constructed in 2003 by the Asia World Company.

Yangon international airport received over 251,800 foreign tourists in the fiscal year 2009-2010, according to statistics.

There is one Myanmar international airline and 13 foreign airlines operating between Yangon and nine destinations, namely Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing via Kunming, Guangzhou, Calcutta, Chiang Mai, Taipei, Doha and Hanoi.

The 13 foreign airlines flying Yangon comprise Air China, China Southern Airlines, Thai Airways International, Indian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Mandarin, Jetstar Asia, Phuket Airline, Thai Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines.

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90...3/7047509.html
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Old July 6th, 2010, 03:24 AM   #16
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http://www.airbagan.com/international.htm

according to Air Bagan's website it offers 1 weekly flight to Kuala Lumpur using Fokker 100
and 2 weekly to Chiang Mai using Fokker 100
but suspended services to Bangkok
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Old July 9th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #17
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Vietnam to launch more direct flight to Yangon

YANGON, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The Vietnam Airline will launch a new air route to directly link Ho Chi Minh city with Myanmar's Yangon to enhance trade between the two countries, the local Myanmar Newsweek reported Thursday.

International passengers from the Vietnamese city will not transit through Hanoi for trip to Yangon, thus saving time if the direct link is established, the weekly quoted airline circle as saying.

Starting October, the Vietnamese airline will fly four times a week, using 150-seat A-320 airbus, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam Airline has increased its services between Hanoi and Yangon to five flights a week since June in a bid to boost tourism of the two countries, while planning flights to two more tourist sites of Bagan and Mandalay as part of the move.

When both flights are in service, there will be nine flights a week between Yangon and the two Vietnamese cities.

The Vietnam airline started flying Hanoi-Yangon on March 2 this year using Fokker-70 aircraft.

Vietnam Airlines represents Myanmar's 6th foreign airline that has direct link with Yangon after those of Thailand, Singapore, India, Malaysia and China.

The 13 foreign airlines flying Yangon comprise Air China, China Southern Airline, Thai Airways International, Indian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Mandarin, Jetstar Asia, Phuket Airline, Thai Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english201...c_13390746.htm
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Old July 10th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #18
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Myanmar int'l airport earns over $6.5 mln from services in 2009-10

Myanmar's Yangon International Airport earned a total of 6.54 million U.S. dollars from various services in the 2009-10 fiscal year, the local Biweekly Eleven reported Saturday.

The airport received a total of over 1.7 million local and foreign visitors during the year, 200,000 more than the previous year.

Of the total which included the incoming and outgoing, 679,000 took domestic flights, while 1.04 million international flights, the report said.

Meanwhile, the civil aviation authorities are planning to upgrade the Yangon international airport to accommodate more visitors and provide better service for the passengers.

Accordingly, the authorities has granted a private company -- Pioneer Aerodrome Services to handle general services of the airport under a 30-year lease contract.

According to the contract, the private company will run the airport's office and shop leasing business, airport maintenance, upgrading of airport-used machines and equipment as well as the renovation of the old airport terminal as a modernized one during this year.

Yangon International Airport was built in 1957 and the new terminal was constructed in 2003 by the Asia World Company.

Yangon international airport received over 251,800 foreign tourists in the fiscal year 2009-10, according to statistics.

There is one Myanmar international airline and 13 foreign airlines operating between Yangon and nine destinations, namely Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing via Kunming, Guangzhou, Calcutta, Chiang Mai, Taipei, Doha and Hanoi.

The 13 foreign airlines flying Yangon comprise Air China, China Southern Airline, Thai Airways International, Indian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Mandarin, Jetstar Asia, Phuket Airline, Thai Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines.

Source: Xinhua

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90...3/7060282.html
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Old August 19th, 2010, 12:01 PM   #19
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Malaysia Airlines to introduce daily flights to Yangon starting September
By Zaw Win Than
August 16 - 22, 2010
A “SURGE” in demand for flying on the Yangon to Kuala Lumpur route has prompted Malaysia Airlines to introduce daily flights between the two cities from next month, a Yangon-based representative of the airline said last week.

From September 2 the airline will increase flights to Myanmar from five times a week to daily using Boeing 737-800s that can accommodate 166 passengers, said Mr Chali Awang, the area manager at Malaysia Airlines’ office in Yangon.

“The reason why [we have decided] to operate daily flights is because there has been a surge in traffic demand on the Kuala Lumpur-Yangon sector compared to last year. With travel demand picking up it is a good time to boost our services between Kuala Lumpur and Yangon,” Mr Chali Awang told The Myanmar Times.

To mark the launch the airline is offering a round-trip promotion fare of US$206 including fuel surcharges and other taxes, he said. Regular fares start at $279.

The flight departs Kuala Lumpur at 10:05am and arrives in Yangon at 11:15am, while the return leg departs Yangon at 12:15pm and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 4:30pm (all times are local).

The announcement comes after budget carrier AirAsia began daily flights on the Yangon-Kuala Lumpur route on July 20, offering promotional fares from as little as $9 one way.

Malaysia Airlines’ codeshare partner, Myanmar Airways International (MAI), also operates five flights a week on the route, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Mr Chali Awang said the daily service would provide a boost to business and tourist arrivals.

“[Daily flights] will provide business and leisure travellers with more flexibility and choice, while also positively impacting traffic between Kuala Lumpur and Yangon,” he said.

He said the airline had initially planned to begin daily flights in March but had to postpone the launch because of a lack of aircraft.

Since the beginning of this year, Malaysia Airlines has also increased its flight frequencies to Seoul in South Korea, Bali in Indonesia, Taipei in Taiwan, Male in the Maldives, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Paris in France, Auckland in New Zealand and Johannesburg and introduced new sectors such as Dammam via Dubai and Bandung in line with plans for network expansion.

http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/news/536/news018.html
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Old August 24th, 2010, 12:54 PM   #20
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Hajj charter flight bookings open
By Cherry Thein
August 23 - 29, 2010

TRAVEL companies and airlines have begun promoting charter flights to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Myanmar Airways International marketing executive Daw Aye Mra Tha said the airline is offering five direct flights to Jeddah, which is the gateway to Mecca, in November and December.

MAI will use a 430-seat Boeing-747 for the flights, which will depart daily from Yangon from November 4 to 8. Return flights from Jeddah will depart daily from December 16 to 20.

“The charter flights will help Hajj pilgrims from Myanmar avoid having to transfer in Bangkok,” she said on August 11.

In November 2008, thousands of pilgrims were left unable to travel to Mecca in time for the start of the Hajj when protestors closed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The airline offered charter flights to Jeddah for the first time in 2009. “We had full bookings for our first packages last year and hope to have the same this year as well,” Daw Aye Mra Tha said.

Gulf Travels and Tours on Sule Pagoda Road will provide two direct charter flights between Yangon-Jeddah and one on the Mandalay-Jeddah route for Hajj pilgrims, a spokesperson said.

U Ko Ko Latt, the company’s managing director, said flights from Mandalay were already fully booked and there were just 100 seats left on Yangon-Jeddah flights.

“We expect to be full to capacity for our three flights and have already issued tickets for 457 of the 1000 or so bookings we’ve taken so far. This is the third time we’ve had direct flights to Jeddah and the passengers say they really appreciate the service because they can save time and money,” he said.

Gulf was the first Myanmar company to offer the Hajj service, offering two direct flights to Jeddah in 2008. In 2009 it operated five flights to the city.

This year the company will lease a 456-seat Boeing-747 with flights departing Yangon on November 6 and 7 and returning flight from Jeddah on December 15 and 17. The flight from Mandalay will depart November 3 and return on December 14.

A spokesperson for the Saudi Arabian embassy said on August 19 it usually issued about 3000 visas each year to enable Myanmar to undertake the Hajj.

Hajj is considered one of the five pillars of Islam and a religious duty that every able-bodied Muslim must carry out at least once in their lifetime, provided they have the financial means.

http://www.mmtimes.com/2010/news/537/news10.html
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