Monday, August 20, 2012

Burma enhances airline ground services

Monday, 20 August 2012 14:31 Mizzima News

Burma’s state-run domestic airline has agreed to jointly operate ground handling airline services with the Dnata Company, based in the United Arab Emirate (UAE), under a memorandum of understanding signed in Rangoon, official media reported on Sunday.

Passengers board a plane at Yangon International Airport. Photo: Mizzima

It is the first time for the state-run Myanmar Airways to carry out ground services with a foreign company.

Ground handling services are now provided to seven international airlines, said the state-run New Light of Myanmar.

The partnership comes as airlines schedule new flights to Yangon International. New services include flights into Rangoon by South Korea's KAL, China's Hong Kong-based Dragon Airline, Chinese Taipei's EVA, Japan's All Nippon Airways and Qatar Airways.

Meanwhile, airlines from Germany and Bangladesh have approached the civil aviation authorities about launching direct flights to Rangoon.

Flights between Rangoon and Manila are expected to be launched before the end of this year, said reports last week.

At present, there are 13 foreign airlines flying to Rangoon: Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Thai Airways International, Indian Airlines, Air Asia, Taiwan region's China Airlines, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Jetstar Asia and Vietnam Airlines.

In addition to the 64-year-old state-operated Myanmar Airways, there are also five privately run domestic Burmese airlines: Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Air Bagan, Asian Wings and Air Kanbawza.

In July, Mizzima reported that Yangon International Airport is showing its 50-plus years, and the government has announced a search for investors to build a second international airport to relieve the pressure.

The proposal calls for a modern airport at Bago, 50 miles from Rangoon, on the site of a Japanese-built airport from World War II, according to state-run media. Construction would start in June 2013 and be completed in 2016.

“The Ministry of Transport would like to cooperate with local and foreign investors for the development of Hanthawady International Airport, and for upgrading and modernizing some other domestic airports,” the Air Transport directorate said in an announcement.

Under the proposal, the airport would cover 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares), an area nine times the size of Yangon International Airport, said Tin Naing Tun, the head of the Civil Aviation Department.

In 1994, construction of a new airport was started on that site, but work stopped in 2003. However, 80 per cent of the earthwork has already been completed, said reports.

Rangoon’s current airport can handle 2.7 million passengers a year, although only 1.45 million passed through in 2011, according to the Transport Ministry.

Burma currently has international airports in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, Mandalay, in central Burma, Rangoon and in Nyaung Oo.

“Passenger and flight arrivals at all international airports are increasing speedily, especially at Yangon International Airport,” a senior ministry official said.

“Rangoon will reach its full capacity in terms of handling flights and passengers by the end of this year,” said an official.

At the Rangoon airport, only 17 planes can park at the airport at the same time.

Naypyitaw’s international airport was inaugurated in December 2011.

Located 16 kilometers south of Naypyitaw, it can handle up to 10 million passengers a year, officials said.

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