Myanmar Airways International (MAI) is poised to launch thrice weekly direct flights between Yangon and Hong Kong by year-end, continuing expansion that has recently included Yangon-Bangkok-Singapore and Yangon-Siem Reap-Phnom Penh services.
Details of the Yangon-Hong Kong connection have still to be announced, Ye Jhan, MAI country manager (Thailand and Cambodia) told Business Traveller, adding that the carrier is also keen to fly to Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi and Shenzhen in the near future.
MAI’s current network includes Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou and Bihar in India, visited by thousands of Hindu and Buddhist devotees. Majority of Myanmar’s population are Buddhists.
Besides Yangon and Bagan in Mandalay – the ancient capital of Myanmar – MAI wants to promote the Myeik Archipelago, along the Andaman Sea near Phuket, which boasts rich diving sites. The airline, in fact, runs regular charter flights between Bangkok and this area.
After decades of stagnation, change is coming to Myanmar at a rapid pace, although still on the military government’s terms. Since the release of the country’s most high-profile opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi in November 2010 and the lifting of international sanctions last April, the stream of investors, hoping to stimulate what has been described by industry pundits as “the most underserved travel market” in the region, has been relentless. Korean Air (see news) and ANA (see news) are the latest international carriers to start up direct links with Yangon.
Hotel rooms of international quality are virtually non-existent, except for the Singapore-based Sedona and Traders brands. But that situation is expected to change with global hospitality companies now in discussion with local business entities to put down stakes in the country. Thai hotel chain Dusit is already present with Chatrium Hotel Yangon while homegrown brand Yuzana boasts two properties in the capital with Yuzana Garden Hotel and Yuzana Hotel Yangon.
To facilitate entry into Myanmar, Ye said that visa-on-arrival service was easily available at Yangon airport at US$30 for tourist and US$40 for business travellers.
For more about MAI, visit www.maiair.com
Margie T Logarta