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License snub prompts ANA to ditch Asian Blue Myanmar airline venture

YANGON – Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc has dropped a plan to form a joint venture in Myanmar, the airline said on Monday, after its application for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) was rejected by the authorities in the Southeast Asian country.

ANA established the Asian Blue joint venture last year with local investor Golden Sky World, owned by property-to-banking conglomerate Shwe Than Lwin.

ANA had agreed to take a 49 percent stake in the airline, which would have focused on international routes, in anticipation of growing demand as Myanmar opens up following decades of military rule.

Asian Blue was ANA’s second attempt at investing in Myanmar. In 2014 it scrapped a plan to buy a 49 percent stake in Asian Wings Airways after growing competition made the investment too risky.

“We can’t find a reason,” said ANA’s Myanmar representative, H. Sammy Aramaki, referring to the government’s refusal to issue the operating license.

“The management can’t wait … any longer,” said Aramaki, whose company filed the application in May last year. He said ANA’s operation in Myanmar would continue as usual.

A spokesman for Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation said ANA’s AOC application was rejected. He did not elaborate.

The decision comes amid growing frustration over the Myanmar government’s management of the economy. The country’s much-needed new foreign investment approvals have slowed since Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won an election victory in late 2015 in one of the region’s poorest countries.

“We regret the fact that we decided to wind up the company, but we would like to keep on exploring the possibility to contribute to the development of the airline industry in Myanmar,” an ANA spokesman told Reuters.

ANA, which operates daily flights between Myanmar’s commercial capital of Yangon and Tokyo, holds an 8.8 percent stake in Vietnam Airlines.

Source : Japan Times

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