Airlines operate with new challenges

A new set of challenges faces the domestic air industry, as the number of airlines grow and ASEAN Open Skies is set to fully kick in later this year, according to deputy transport minister U Zin Yaw.

Speaking at the Amyotha Hluttaw on March 12 in response to a question from Yangon representative U Nyunt Tin, he said a national plan is also near completion that covers the concerns of the civil aviation sector.

Parliamentarians say the domestic aviation sector is stronger than it has been in recent memory.
“These days, Myanmar’s airway sector has improved. There are now 10 local carriers, whereas before there were only two or three,” said U Nyunt Tin.

Myanmar has also signed on to the ASEAN Open Skies Policy, which is to allow for freer flights, specifically the right to fly from an airline’s home country to a foreign country in ASEAN, and vice versa, without government approval. A number of restrictions on flights still apply, however, notably restrictions on flights between two foreign countries by a third country’s airline.

U Nyunt Tun said that while Myanmar agrees in general with the open sky policy, it is concerned its small, local airlines may lose out if foreign competitors are allowed to fly domestic routes.

“Our airlines have trouble competing domestically, let alone in the ASEAN region,” he said. “Local airlines will be better-placed to compete in the market if concerned ministries create plans to merge with foreign airlines.”

U Zin Yaw said the Ministry of Transport and Department of Civil Aviation have been encouraging mergers with foreign airlines as well as signing contracts to collaborate with foreign airlines to offer the opportunity to improve. Foreign airlines can own up to 49 percent of a local airline, under existing rules.

There are currently 10 local airlines: Yangon Airway, Air Mandalay, Asian Wings Airline, Golden Myanmar Airlines, Air KBZ, Air Bagan, Mann Yadanarpon, Myanmar National Airlines, Myanmar Airways International and FMI Air, with an eleventh, Apex, in the works.

Source: Myanmar Times

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