Yangon airport T1 gets first foreign tenant

Yangon International Airport’s shiny new terminal has been almost empty since it opened in March – hosting only the country’s flag carrier Myanmar National Airlines. But space and facilities are becoming increasingly important for the raft of foreign firms aiming to add Myanmar routes, and the first international airlines are starting to move in.

The new terminal, built by Asia World subsidiary Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited (YACL) in less than two years, opened in March after a ceremony attended by then-president U Thein Sein.

Myanmar National Airlines started flights from the terminal – known as T1 – that same month, but until this week the local carrier has had the US$660 million facility to itself. As of yesterday, MNA has a new neighbour in the form of Malaysian carrier AirAsia, which has moved its Malaysia AirAsia and Thai AirAsia flights to T1.

An AirAsia spokesperson said the airline had opted to move because of the additional space and more modern facilities, which would help its plans to offer customers more flights and destinations in Myanmar. The carrier started offering direct flights from Yangon to Penang in March.

More space and better facilities are likely to become increasingly attractive as more foreign firms try to expand their business in Myanmar.

Twenty-eight international carriers were flying to Yangon as of March and several more have confirmed new routes – Emirates Airlines will begin daily flights to Dubai in August and Hong Kong Express will launch flights later this year.

Bangkok Airways is looking at adding Bagan and Myeik to its roster, although this would require a specific agreement with the Myanmar government.

Yangon Airport is likely to become more crowded still, with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) signing new international air services agreements that pave way for other foreign carriers to visit Myanmar.

An agreement with Bhutan signed last month will allow flights between Bhutan and any of Myanmar’s three international airports. Bhutanese airlines are conducting a feasibility study into Myanmar, a DCA official said.

The DCA signed an agreement with the Netherlands earlier this week that will allow carriers in both countries to operate seven weekly flights between the two destinations. An air services agreement with Mongolia is scheduled for later this year.

YACL, which manages both terminals at Yangon International Airport, did not respond to comment. But a DCA official said that firm had invited all international airlines to shift operations to the new terminal.

“They can move when they are ready,” he said. “Or if they want they can remain at Terminal 2.”

Airlines planning to move to T1 first discuss the process with YACL, and then inform the DCA, the official said. The DCA has not received any notification from a third airline planning to move, but it was possible another carrier would make the switch in the next one or two months, he added.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

 

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