AirAsia has plans to open a new airline in Myanmar, CEO Tony Fernandes said.
AirAsia Bhd is in talks with a potential partner to start an airline serving Myanmar. If successful, the move will enable the Malaysian budget carrier to cover up to 95 percent of the Southeast Asia aviation market.
Mr Fernandes told Reuters that he had met with a potential “well-respected” partner with a “good airline” in Sydney and was undergoing the necessary processes towards forming the new airline.
He added that the airline would not be a big one due to the current airport infrastructure, but said Myanmar’s large population promises further potential for growth over time.
AirAsia now has businesses in Malaysia - its home - along with India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Thailand, as well as plans to launch an airline in China. In an interview with Reuters on Monday, CEO Mr Tony Fernandes said he also expected AirAsia’s Vietnam joint venture to be flying by October.
More recently, AirAsia formed a joint venture for its Singapore and Malaysian ground-handling operations and this month sold its leasing business to established leasing portfolio manager BBAM Ltd.
The move comes after Myanmar authorities rejected plans by Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc to form an airline with local partner Golden Sky World last year.
It also comes just as competition for the Myanmar travel market is rising. Last week, Singapore Airlines held a press conference in Yangon to draw awareness over its efforts to attract travelers from both markets.
The airline now operates more than three full-service daily flights between Yangon and Singapore compared to less than three before October last year.
These include two SilkAir narrow body Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 flights and a Singapore Airlines wide body A330 flight between the two cities. SilkAir is the regional arm of Singapore Airlines. The airline recently also increased its weekly flights to Mandalay.
While the current frequency of flights between Yangon and Singapore is sufficient for existing traffic, the airline may consider increasing the size of its aircraft, particularly for mid-day flights, should traffic increase in the future, said Desmond Pan, General Manager in Myanmar at Singapore Airlines.
The airline currently flies to seven Southeast Asian countries. Around 10pc-20pc of the total number of flights in the region are to Myanmar.
Singaporeans travelling to Myanmar for short trips also no longer need to apply for a visa.
By Myanmar Times(Published: 21/03/2018) https://www.mmtimes.com/news/airasia-exploring-new-myanmar-airline-competition-rises.html
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