Two New Airlines Await OK from Burma Investment Body

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 17 June 2014

RANGOON — Two new domestic airlines are expecting to get the green light “soon” to begin flying both domestic and regional scheduled routes, according to Win Swe Tun, the director general of Burma’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).

“Both Apex and FMI are waiting for approval from the MIC [Myanmar Investment Commission] to start operating scheduled flights. All documents are in the last stage of approval,” Win Swe Tun told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The two prospective carriers, both owned by Burmese business tycoons, will be based in Naypyidaw.

Apex Airlines intends to serve the capital, Myeik, Mandalay, Heho, Rangoon, Dawei, Nyaung U and Kawthaung domestically, as well as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Apex is owned by Khin Soe, a businessman with interests in Burma’s fishing, hotel, and petroleum industries.

A subsidiary of the First Myanmar Investment (FMI) Company has been offering chartered flights, as well as a regular daily service between Rangoon and Naypyidaw, and is looking to expand into scheduled flight services. FMI Air Charter Ltd currently offers chartered flights with two planes—an ATR-42 and Beech 1900-D—rented from state-run Myanma Airways.

FMI was established in the early 1990s as part of SPA Myanmar, a conglomerate of more than 40 businesses owned by the Burmese business tycoon Serge Pun.

A staffer at the office of the FMI management team told The Irrawaddy that the airline could not yet say when it expected to have scheduled flights on offer.

“We will announce officially when we start to operate,” she said.

In February, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines became the latest operational entry into Burma’s increasingly crowded domestic airline industry. The airline currently offers commercial flights to Rangoon, Mandalay, Nyaung U, Heho, Kengtung, Tachiliek and Myitkyina. The Mandalay-based carrier became Burma’s eighth domestic airline in operation.

“As international visitors are coming into Burma, domestic airlines are seeing demand in the market. More visitors means more demand, that’s why new domestic airlines are looking to invest in this market,” Win Swe Tun said.

“It’s sure they won’t turn a profit initially, but in terms of the long-term investment, as international airlines are coming here, visitors will take domestic airlines as well,” he said.

Domestic market players currently include Air Bagan, Air KBZ, Asian Wings Airways, Air Mandalay, Myanma Airways, Yangon Airways, Golden Myanmar Airlines and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines. Myanmar Airways International serves as Burma’s international flag carrier and 24 other international airlines are currently operating in the country, according to the DCA.

“Many international airlines are interested in coming to Burma. The DCA is going to agree with France on a Memorandum for Understanding [MoU] this week,” Win Swe Tun said without elaborating, adding that a new code-sharing arrangement between Bangkok Airways and Air France was making it easier for European travelers to visit Burma.