Plans for Japan’s largest airline to acquire a stake in Myanmar’s Asian Wings Airways for US$25 million are still to receive government approval, the Myanmar company’s chief executive has stated.
Information about All Nippon Airways (ANA) Holdings’ move into the Myanmar airline business leaked ahead of schedule last week, causing a hastily-assembled press conference in Yangon where company officials confirmed the plans but cautioned it awaited formal approval from government authorities.
Company representatives also denied that prominent Myanmar tycoon U Tay Za, who is often associated with the airline by industry insiders, is a shareholder in the business.
“We just worry about mistakes from leaking inappropriate news to the public right now, because [our plans] are being reviewed at a national level,” said Asian Wings chief executive U Kyi Win at a Yangon press conference last Wednesday.
ANA plans to invest $25 million for a 49 percent share of Myanmar’s Asian Wings, though formal approval is not expected for some months, according to company officials.
“We realise that [Asian Wings] is currently small, but we’re talking about the future,” said ANA Airways public relations senior manager Nomura Ryosei.
ANA’s press release shows U Tay Za is not a shareholder at Asian Wings, as it claims the airline is 60pc owned by U Lwin Moe and 40pc by U Than Oo.
“We completed a survey and through the survey did not find any evidence U Tay Za was associated with Asian Wings Airlines,” Mr. Nomura told The Myanmar Times.
He added this finding had cleared the way for the investment.
U Tay Za was added to a United States blacklist in October 2007.
Mr Nomura said the planned deal highlighted growth opportunities in the Myanmar market, adding that though there are eight airlines in Myanmar and possibly more on the way, ANA is aiming for first-mover advantage with its tie-up plans.
“The acquisition of the stake in Asian Wings represents the first investment in a Myanmar-based commercial carrier by a foreign airline,” the firm said in a press release.
Asian Wings launched flights in early 2011, and is currently flying 13 domestic routes with three planes. It aims to begin international flights in October, the release said.
U Kyi Win said the joint venture expects to fly a total of ten A320 planes by 2018.
Asian Wings majority owner U Lwin Moe declined to reveal planned additional investments by ANA, but said the two firms hoped to formalise the joint venture by the end of 2013.
“We have been discussing the deal with ANA for a year,” he said, adding the firm intended to launch international flights in October 2014.
ANA currently flies three times weekly from Tokyo’s Narita airport to Yangon, but plans to introduce seven flights per week on the route at the end of September.
Asian Wings registered as a Myanmar national private company on September 2010.
Government officials declined to discuss the approval process for the deal when contacted.
Source: Myanmar Times