Car­ri­ers con­verge on Man­dalay-Bangkok route

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - STEVE GIL­MORE s.gil­more@mm­times.com

Man­dalay res­i­dents eager to visit Bangkok will be spoilt for choice next month when Myan­mar Na­tional Air­ways and Myan­mar Air­ways In­ter­na­tional both launch flights.

MAN­DALAY res­i­dents eager to visit Bangkok will have a bevy of new flight op­tions next month. Myan­mar Na­tional Air­ways (MNA) will be­gin of­fer­ing thrice-weekly flights from Au­gust 31, just a day be­fore Myan­mar Air­ways In­ter­na­tional (MAI) is sched­uled to be­gin its own Man­dalay-Bangkok route.

Com­pe­ti­tion is in­tense in Myan­mar’s air­line in­dus­try, which com­prises the two in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers – MNA and MAI – and nine firms that of­fer only in­ter­na­tional flights. Those nine in­ter­nal air­lines mostly fight over the same routes with sim­i­lar sched­ules and fare struc­tures.

The two in­ter­na­tional car­ri­ers, mean­while, com­pete against each other, along with bud­get and na­tional car­ri­ers in other re­gional coun­tries. For­eign air­lines are all al­lowed ac­cess to Yan­gon, Man­dalay and Nay Pyi Taw routes, with some re­stric­tions on fre­quency.

Na­tional car­rier MNA al­ready flies from Yan­gon to Bangkok and back again daily. The firm is now hop­ing to tap into de­mand from pas­sen­gers in the coun­try’s sec­ond largest city for the same trip, CEO Cap­tain Than Tun told The Myan­mar Times.

From Au­gust 31, flights on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day from Yan­gon to Bangkok will also stop at Man­dalay, he said.

The morn­ing route will be Yan­gon-Man­dalay-Bangkok, and the evening route Bangkok-Man­dalayYan­gon, he said. The Yan­gon-Bangkok re­turn route on Tues­days and Thurs­days will con­tinue un­changed.

Mean­while, MAI will start its own three-times-a-week Man­dalay-Bangkok route a day later. Those re­turn flights will run on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Satur­day.

Daw Aye Mra Tha, MAI’s head of mar­ket­ing and public re­la­tions, said the air­line had ap­plied sev­eral months ago for the new route, and be­fore MNA.

“It’s a com­pet­i­tive busi­ness,” she said, adding there were no re­stric­tions on air­lines adopt­ing sim­i­lar routes.

Capt Than Tun said MNA was only in com­pe­ti­tion with it­self, not other air­lines, and was fo­cused on pro­vid­ing bet­ter safety and ser­vices for its cus­tomers.

Myan­mar’s two in­ter­na­tional air­lines are also eye­ing other in­ter­na­tional routes to add to their menus. Capt Than Tun told The Myan­mar Times in March that MNA had booked slots for di­rect flights to Shang­hai and Chengdu in China, which he ex­pected to start this year. But dis­cus­sions on these routes are still tak­ing place, and it was not con­firmed when they would start, he said yes­ter­day.

MAI, mean­while, has al­ready ap­plied to of­fer a di­rect flight to Kolkata in In­dia, which is hop­ing to start in Oc­to­ber, Daw Aye Mra Tha said.

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