Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Bans Domestic Flights Amid COVID-19 Resurgence

By Aung Thiha 10 September 2020

Yangon—In response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Myanmar, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has ordered a halt to domestic flights from Friday.

Airlines have been ordered to suspend domestic flights, according to U Than Tun, chief executive officer of Myanmar National Airlines (MNA).

“All the airlines will suspend operations as the ministry has instructed us. We will announce details on our Facebook page,” U Than Tun told The Irrawaddy.

Another domestic airline, Air KBZ, owned by the Kanbawza Group of Companies, also confirmed the suspension. “Air KBZ will suspend operations for two weeks. We will suspend all domestic flights, except charted flights to Kyaukphyu [in Rakhine State],” said general manager U Tin Maung Than.

Myanmar Airways International (MAI), another airline owned by the Kanbawza Group that operates international flights, will continue relief flights, he said.

The Irrawaddy was not able to contact the Ministry of Transport and Communications for a comment.

Air Thanlwin also announced the suspension of flights until Sept. 24, saying it would refund tickets for the period. Other airlines also said on their Facebook pages that they will suspend operations until Sept. 30 and refund tickets.

Over 5,700 people flew from Rakhine State, where the current outbreak started, to Yangon and other regions and states in August, contributing to the spread of the virus. Around 3,000 of them failed to report to the health authorities, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

As of Thursday morning, Myanmar has reported 2,009 confirmed cases with 14 deaths with Yangon becoming the new center of the outbreak.

Myanmar banned all international commercial passenger flights on March 31. It has extended the ban until Sept. 30. Relief, cargo, medical evacuation and special flights approved by the Department of Civil Aviation are not affected by the ban.

Myanmar has been operating relief flights for citizens stranded in foreign countries due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Air KBZ, MNA, Air Thanlwin, Golden Myanmar and Mann Yadanarpon airlines, which operate domestic flights in Myanmar, have ceased operations until Sept. 30.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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