Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Foreign airlines stacking up flights into Rangoon

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:36 Mizzima News

EVA Airways Corp. (EVA), Taiwan's second largest carrier, launched three-times a week direct flights between Taipei and Rangoon on Tuesday, according to airline sources.

Yangon International Airport in Rangoon Photo: Robin Thom / flickr

EVA is the latest foreign airline to extend service to Rangoon, two months after Korean Air and Qatar Airways began flights.

Taiwan's largest carrier China Airlines currently operates five flights per week between Taipei and Rangoon and it will increase the number of flights to seven per week starting Oct. 28.

Using MD-90 jets, the direct flight from the region is expected to bring North American passengers to Burma via Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Burma’s national carrier, the Myanmar Airways International (MAI), will also launch direct flights between Rangoon and Hong Kong before the end of this year, officials announced this week.

Five more foreign airline –  Dragon Air, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, Germany-based Condor Airlines and Trans Asia Airways – are preparing to offer flights into Burma.

Sixteen foreign airlines now have flights into Rangoon.

In addition to the 64-year-old state-operated domestic Myanma Airways (MA), there are also five private-run domestic airlines in Burma: Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Air Bagan, Asian Wings and Air Kanbawza.

On July 3, Mizzima reported that the old Yangon International Airport is showing its 50-plus years of service, and the government has started a search for investors to build a second international airport to relieve the pressure.

The proposal is to build 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, said an official.

“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.

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

At the Yangon airport, only 17 planes can park at the airport at the same time, according to civil aviation Deputy Director Nweni Win Kyaw.

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.

The airport was partly designed to accommodate events such as the Southeast Asian Games and Asean summit to be hosted in Naypyitaw in 2013 and 2014.

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