Hong Kong car­rier says its work­ing to re­solve ‘is­sues’ at Man­dalay air­port

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

BUD­GET air­line HK Ex­press will re­view restart­ing flights to Man­dalay af­ter re­solv­ing is­sues that lo­cal avi­a­tion of­fi­cials said con­cerned fuel qual­ity. But the firm that sup­plies the coun­try’s air­ports said there are no doubts about the stan­dard of fuel it pro­vides.

The Hong Kong car­rier be­gan flights to Yan­gon and Man­dalay in the first week of Septem­ber, but will stop the Man­dalay ser­vice on Oc­to­ber 28 be­cause of “op­er­a­tional is­sues” about which the firm would not elab­o­rate.

De­part­ment of Civil Avi­a­tion (DCA) of­fi­cials told The Myan­mar Times that same week that the car­rier had cited prob­lems with fuel qual­ity at Man­dalay air­port as the rea­son for stop­ping flights.

‘There should be no ques­tion about the qual­ity of the fuel at Man­dalay.’

David Holden NEPAS

DCA deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral U Ye Htut Aung also said HK Ex­press had been al­lowed to fly to Yan­gon on the un­der­stand­ing it also pro­vides flights to Man­dalay – a des­ti­na­tion the DCA is keen to pro­mote.

HK Ex­press has not made any of­fi­cial com­plaint about fuel qual­ity and has not raised the prob­lem since, DCA di­rec­tor of air trans­port U Ne Win said on Septem­ber 27. But the car­rier has also not ap­plied for Man­dalay flights in the win­ter sched­ule – be­gin­ning at the end of Oc­to­ber – al­though it will op­er­ate a twice weekly ser­vice to Yan­gon, he said.

HK Ex­press did not cite fuel is­sues in its rea­son for not of­fer­ing win­ter flights to Man­dalay, but blamed a lack of slots at its home air­port of Hong Kong, U Ne Win said. It was “pos­si­ble” that HK Ex­press might restart the Man­dalay flights in the fu­ture, he added. An HK Ex­press spokesper­son told The Myan­mar Times that the air­line is work­ing with the air­port au­thor­i­ties in Man­dalay “to re­solve the op­er­a­tion is­sues and will re­view re­in­stat­ing ser­vices be­tween Hong Kong and Man­dalay once these is­sues are closed”.

The car­rier would not com­ment on its win­ter flight sched­ule and again de­clined to com­ment on the na­ture of the “op­er­a­tional is­sues”.

David Holden, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Na­tional En­ergy Puma Avi­a­tion Ser­vices (NEPAS) – the sole sup­plier of jet fuel to the coun­try’s re­gional air­ports – said there were no fuel qual­ity is­sues to re­solve.

“There should be no ques­tion about the qual­ity of the fuel at Man­dalay or any other air­port in Myan­mar,” he said. “Nepas would not wish to com­ment on the plans of in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers but can as­sure that all air­lines cur­rently fly­ing into Man­dalay have con­ducted their own au­dits and have not found any is­sues.”

NEPAS is a joint ven­ture be­tween Puma En­ergy and the state-owned Myanma Petroleum Prod­ucts En­ter­prise (MPPE), and took over from MPPE as sole jet fuel sup­plier in July.

Of­fi­cials at lo­cal air­lines said there have been prob­lems with fuel qual­ity in the past. But Mr Holden said that NEPAS has started a “very sig­nif­i­cant” up­grade of equip­ment and train­ing since tak­ing over as sole sup­plier, which should help as­sure cus­tomers that the fuel is of in­ter­na­tional stan­dard.

In the mean­time, al­though the DCA is keen for HK Ex­press to of­fer flights to Man­dalay, U Ne Win said the air­line is un­der no strict obli­ga­tion to do so. As part of the air ser­vice agree­ment be­tween Myan­mar and Hong Kong, HK Ex­press is al­lowed to op­er­ate seven flights a week re­gard­less of des­ti­na­tion, he said.

Photo: Sup­plied

HK Ex­press gen­eral man­ager Sher­man Luk (left) cuts a cake with Myan­mar of­fi­cials at the car­rier’s launch cer­e­mony on Septem­ber 1.

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