HK car­rier in­creases flights with Yan­gon

The Myanmar Times - - Local Business - THOMP­SON CHAU t.chau@mm­times.com

IN late Oc­to­ber, Cathay Dragon will scale up the traf­fic ca­pac­ity be­tween Yan­gon and Hong Kong by an ex­tra 60 per­cent. The flights tar­get both Myan­mar trav­ellers who use Hong Kong as a tran­sit hub for North­east Asia and other con­ti­nents as well as busi­ness trav­ellers who move around in the re­gion.

Cur­rently, the car­rier, for­merly Drag­o­nair, op­er­ates a daily flight from Yan­gon to Hong Kong. Start­ing from Oc­to­ber 29, it will serve an ad­di­tional 4 flights per week, op­er­at­ing on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day and Sun­day. The new flights de­part Hong Kong at 2:25pm and ar­rive in Yan­gon at 4:20pm. The re­turn flight departs Yan­gon at 5:20pm, ar­riv­ing in Hong Kong at 9:45pm, with a fly­ing time of just 2.45 hours.

Cathay Dragon is the re­gional car­rier of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pa­cific Group, the city’s flag­ship car­rier. The group has a long his­tory with Myan­mar, dat­ing back to al­most a cen­tury ago.

“In the 1940s, Yan­gon was ac­tu­ally one of the very first routes served by Cathay Pa­cific!” Ni­cholas Bury, the air­line’s coun­try man­ager in Myan­mar, said.

Mar­ket de­mand Mr Bury told The Myan­mar Times that there are two rea­sons lead­ing to the ad­di­tion of flights.

“Firstly, the new flights al­low us to bet­ter serve our cus­tomers fly­ing be­tween Hong Kong and Myan­mar. In par­tic­u­lar, our fre­quent fly­ers will en­joy the new de­par­ture and ar­rival times, which suit both day trips and longer vis­its,” he said.

The ad­di­tional flights pro­vide pas­sen­gers a much shorter con­nect­ing time to a wide range of des­ti­na­tions within the Cathay Pa­cific net­work through its Hong Kong hub. This in­cludes Sydney and Melbourne in Aus­tralia, all 13 of Cathay’s Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing London, Paris, Rome and Madrid, and San Fran­cisco in the US.

“This will strengthen Cathay Pa­cific’s cur­rent po­si­tion as the largest car­rier by num­ber of pas­sen­gers per year to the US from Myan­mar and re­ally put us on the map in terms as a car­rier of choice on the other key long­haul routes too,” Mr Bury noted.

The flight ser­vices tar­get both tourists and busi­ness cus­tomers. Up to 40pc of the traf­fic in the route de­rives from pas­sen­gers fly­ing from Myan­mar’s com­mer­cial hub and tran­sit­ing in Hong Kong to travel to other des­ti­na­tions.

Cathay, which is the air­line spon­sor for the Bri­tish Cham­ber of Com­merce Myan­mar, ex­pects the new flights to be sup­ported by in­bound tourists from Europe, as well as out­bound busi­ness trav­ellers from Yan­gon to Europe as well as North Amer­ica. The de­mand to North­east Asia – Ja­pan and South Korea – is also on the rise for both in­bound and out­bound traf­fic. The car­rier seeks to tap into the busi­nesses and pro­fes­sion­als who shut­tle around the re­gion.

‘With these new flights, Cathay Dragon has added an ad­di­tional 60pc ca­pac­ity be­tween Myan­mar and Hong Kong. This is a big in­vest­ment, and a strong in­di­ca­tion that we have con­fi­dence in the growth po­ten­tial in the Myan­mar mar­ket.’

Ni­cholas Bury Coun­try man­ager Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways

Op­ti­mism when oth­ers fal­tered Cathay’s in­creased en­gage­ment with Myan­mar’s com­mer­cial cap­i­tal comes at a time when oth­ers seem to have thrown in the towel.

In May this year, Hong Kong bud­get air­line HK Ex­press sus­pended flight ser­vices be­tween Hong Kong and Yan­gon to “bet­ter op­ti­mise util­i­sa­tion of the air­line’s re­sources”, ac­cord­ing to the air­line’s spokesper­son.

In Septem­ber 2016, the bud­get air­line also op­er­ated flights be­tween Man­dalay and Hong Kong for two months, but halted the op­er­a­tions in late Oc­to­ber be­cause of is­sues with fuel qual­ity at Man­dalay air­port, De­part­ment of Civil Avi­a­tion (NCA) of­fi­cials told The Myan­mar Times.

De­part­ment of Civil Avi­a­tion direc­tor of air trans­port U Ne Win said that HK Ex­press had in­formed the DCA it was sus­pend­ing op­er­a­tions to Man­dalay be­cause of prob­lems with fuel qual­ity at Man­dalay’s air­port.

In con­trast, the sis­ter air­line of Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways ap­peared to have weath­ered the storm.

In­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Cathay Dragon re­vealed that the load fac­tor of its cur­rent Yan­gon-HK flights has held steady this year at around 75-80 per­cent. This is “a strong per­for­mance in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment”, ac­cord­ing to Mr Bury.

“With these new flights, Cathay Dragon has added an ad­di­tional 60pc ca­pac­ity be­tween Myan­mar and Hong Kong. This is a big in­vest­ment, and a strong in­di­ca­tion that we have con­fi­dence in the growth po­ten­tial in the Myan­mar mar­ket,” he ex­plained.

Only Cathay and Myan­mar Na­tional Air­lines (MNA) op­er­ate di­rect flights be­tween the two cities. MNA flights op­er­ate on Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day and Sun­day.

Sin­ga­pore, an­other city pop­u­lar among trav­ellers in Myan­mar, has sev­eral air­lines serv­ing non­stop flights: Jet­star, Scoot, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, MNA and Myan­mar Air­ways In­ter­na­tional (MAI).

Photo: EPA

Cathay Dragon is the re­gional car­rier of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pa­cific Group, which has a long his­tory with Myan­mar, dat­ing back to the 1940s.

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