Air Mandalay (6T, Yangon) CEO U Sai Kham Park Hpa has refuted claims levelled by predecessor Gary Villiard that the airline’s poor financial and managerial state will preclude it from resuming operations at the end of the month.
“We will resume operations with one ATR72-212 and two ERJ-145 aircraft, which will arrive in Myanmar near the end of January 2015. So we will be officially flying again no later than February,” he told the Myanmar Times. “Air Mandalay’s suspension of operations is not related to our financial position. All of our crews are working except for pilots and air stewards.”
The two ERJ-145s Hpa referenced are ex-AeroMéxico Connect (5D, Monterrey General Mariano Escobedo) machines cn 145060 and 145089 which were to have arrived in the country in December in time for a January re-launch. However, it has since emerged that the carrier has encountered difficulties in importing the jets, largely as a result of high import duties. According to Hpa, Air Mandalay is in talks with the government to “adjust” the taxes.
Despite a strong local reputation and brand recognition, Villiard has claimed that a lack of skilled management and chronic undercapitalization, due in large part to shareholder intransigence, have crippled the airline and will continue to do so until unless the status-quo changes.
“I drew on every connection I had to save the airline,” he said. “At every board meeting shareholders promised to make financial commitments but those commitments were never kept.”
Villiard also claims that talks with potential new investor collapsed while an impasse has been reached concerning the sale of government’s 33% stake in the carrier.
“It’s a crying shame because the Air Mandalay brand is so powerful. I couldn’t believe when I got here how strong the brand is. But to underfund it or refuse to take on equity partners … is going to leave 386 people on the street with no place to go.”
Prior to its suspension of operations, Air Mandalay had offered scheduled flights to fifteen domestic destinations alongside charter flights to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.