Reports that Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) is planning to buy a 49 percent stake in Asian Wings Airways—a tiny, little-known airline believed to be owned by US-sanctioned businessman Tay Za—has riled other Burmese domestic airlines, according to industry insiders.
The deal, reported by the Nikkei business daily, is contrary to a “gentlemen’s agreement” among Burmese carriers, said one airline executive who asked to remain anonymous. He said that Burma’s airlines had agreed not to partner with foreign companies.
Adding to the controversy surrounding the agreement is the fact that Tay Za, who is believed to have established Asian Wings with Sun Far Travels and Tours in 2010, is still on a US sanctions for his alleged role in helping to supply arms to Burma’s former military regime—a charge that he denies.
According to media reports, Asian Wings fleet consists of just three turboprop ATR 72 regional aircraft and one domestic-use Airbus A321. Under the deal with ANA, the airline will begin flights to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in October, the reports said.
In a statement, ANA Holdings said that “ANA Group will invest US $25 million for AWA [Asian Wings Airways] as part of its stated strategy of expanding into new international markets.”
The statement also noted that the deal “represents the first investment in a Myanmar-based commercial carrier by a foreign airline.”
Asian Wings is not subject to US sanctions.