New Rangoon-Ho Chi Minh City Air Route Due Early October

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 24 July 2015

RANGOON — As regional airlines expand their operations under the Asean “Open Skies” policy that officially kicked off this year, a Vietnamese airline announced on Friday that it would be that country’s first private carrier to link with Burma’s commercial capital Rangoon.

The new route between Rangoon and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, which will be serviced from Oct. 2, will operate with a frequency of five return flights per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the airline announced. The two-hour-and-15-minute flights will fly Ho Chi Minh City-Rangoon-Ho Chi Minh City on the scheduled days.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, vice president of VietJet, said in a statement announcing the new route that the expansion was about “connecting the two countries’ business, culture and tourism hubs.”

“We are looking forward to making air travel more affordable and enjoyable for the people of Myanmar, who will be able to travel aboard and enjoy our wide regional flight network with amazing pricing and service,” he said.

State-owned Vietnam Airlines has flown the Ho Chi Minh City-Rangoon route for the last five years. VietJet was communist-ruled Vietnam’s first private airline to be granted an operating license, and the low-cost carrier flies 33 routes inside Vietnam and regionally.

The Asean Single Aviation Market, more commonly known as the Open Skies policy, is an effort to liberalize the commercial aviation industries of Asean’s 10 member states, opening the region to more competition by streamlining regulations and removing red tape across the sector. The plan is being implemented gradually over the coming years and Asean members will have some leeway to accept degrees of opening up their aviation market to outside competitors.

In tandem with the growing air connectivity, Asean member states are working to ease visa arrangements for their nationals, with the ultimate goal of allowing visa-free travel throughout the regional bloc.

That effort is being viewed by Burma’s tourism industry as a major potential boost to foreign arrivals.

“Commercial flights would come to Myanmar more because [more tourists would come] when there is no visa among this Asean countries, even in low season like this raining period,” said Aung Myat Kyaw, chairman of Union of Myanmar Travel Association.

Recently, Burma pledged to finalize agreements with regional countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and the Philippines, to move towards visa exemptions for ordinary passport holders by the end of 2015.

Since Burma’s economic opening up under President Thein Sein’s government, the number of international flights to the country has rapidly increased to 24, almost all of which are operated by regional carriers.