Hong Kong carrier says its working to resolve ‘issues’ at Mandalay airport
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.
HK Express general manager Sherman Luk (left) cuts a cake with Myanmar officials at the carrier’s launch ceremony on September 1.