Golden Myanmar Airlines (GMA), Myanmar’s first low-cost carrier, hopes to capitalise on bright tourism prospects and – further down the road – on a huge population of nearly 70 million that is keen to travel.
Andrew Stephen, GMA’s chief executive officer, told Business Traveller: “The situation here is like that 10 or 15 years ago in the region when many people could not conceive of flying. So now, we need to educate the people of Myanmar that flying is possible for them.” State-owned Myanmar International Airways has, for many years, served as the country’s defacto flag carrier, while a number of airlines such as Yangon Airways ply domestic routes. Overland travel in Myanmar is notoriously difficult due to poor infrastructure.
With Tun Foundation Bank and CB Bank as the main share holders, the carrier started up in January with daily flights between Mandalay and Yangon. In April, it launched a service to Singapore and in May, to Bangkok. Two A320-200s, accommodating 180 passengers, are being used on the routes.
Later this year, another A320 will join the fleet, followed by two ATR72s, said Stephen, adding that these would allow frequencies to the current points to increase.
Following this, the airline will consider flying to other cities in the region and main points in neighbouring China. “With our location, GMA is well placed to serve these destinations,” Stephen said.
Since the release of freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi from long house arrest and easing of government restrictions, visitor arrivals have shown unprecedented growth. The latest tourism figures indicate that almost a million visitors flocked to the country in 2012 over 816,000 visitors in 2011. Corporate travellers expectedly are part of this influx, given the country’s positive investment image. ANA, one of the first international carriers to launch services to the re-invigorated Myanmar, uses an all-business B737 to Yangon (see here).
Other entrants include Qatar, Dragonair, China Airlines and EVA Air. The foreign low-cost carriers flying to Yangon (Rangoon/RGN) are Air Asia and Jetstar.
For more details, visit www.gmairlines.com
Margie T Logarta