BA eyes new routes to Myanmar

Chiang Mai – Fresh from launching two routes to Myanmar from its newly established hub in Chiang Mai this week, Bangkok Airways is casting a keen eye on two more cities.

Myeik, in the extreme south of Myanmar, and the ancient city of Bagan are on the 46-year-old Thai carrier’s radar as part of a bid to strengthen its footprint in Myanmar, an emerging market for air travel.

The airline’s studies for launching scheduled flights from Bangkok to Myeik, the centre of more than 800 islands in the Tanintharyi region, and from Chiang Mai to Bagan, where the remains of more than 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive, have been completed.

“All we need is for the airline’s president to signal a green light,” a senior executive told the Bangkok Post.

On Sunday Bangkok Airways began three flights a week from Chiang Mai to Mandalay, while on Monday it launched four flights a week from Chiang Mai to Yangon.

Bangkok Airways has been the chief provider of service from Thailand to Myanmar, operating three routes from Bangkok — to Yangon, Mandalay and the capital Nay Pyi Taw — totalling 40 flights a week.

From Suvarnabhumi airport, the carrier operates four daily flights to Yangon and a daily service to Mandalay (both by single-aisle A320 jet) and five flights a week to Nay Pyi Taw (by ATR-72 turboprop).

In common with the newly opened routes from Chiang Mai to Mandalay and Yangon, the airline intends to use the 70-seat ATR-72, considered an ideal aeroplane for short routes and developing new markets such as Myeik and Bagan.

Pending the final decision, services to the two Myanmar cities could get off the ground in the next year or so, executives said.

Dawei, once known as Tavoy and now the seat of a proposed industrial zone, is also emerging as a potential destination from Bangkok, but only in the distant future as development matures and air travel demand is confirmed.

ML Nandhika Varavarn, senior director for corporate communications, said Bangkok Airways could potentially raise the number of flights on its existing Myanmar routes.

Source: Bangkok Post

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