Asian Wings begins domestic flights
January 31-February 6, 2011
An Asian Wings ATR-72 on the runway at Yangon Airport.
NEW domestic airline Asian Wings Airways took to the air for the first time last week.
“We started to fly our domestic routes on January 27, shortly after getting our Air Operation Certificate” in mid-January, said general manager U Maung Maung Shwe Moe.
“Our first route was Yangon-Nyaung Oo-Mandalay-Heho-Yangon, and the flight left Yangon at 6am from Yangon on that day,” he said. “We are fully booked until the end of [January] and have received some bookings for February as well.”
The airline is also offering flights to Tachileik, Lashio, Myitkyina, Kalay, Dawei, Myeik and Kawthoung and plans to begin services between Yangon and Thandwe, Khamti, Bhamo, Kyaukpyu, Sittwe, Mawlamyine, Monywa, Homalin and Loikaw “very soon”.
U Maung Maung Shwe Moe said he was confident Asian Wings could quickly gain a large slice of the domestic market, despite charging a similar price to its competitors.
“Ticket prices are the same as other airlines because they are standardised by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Instead, we will more focus on passenger services, including on-board services, opening branch offices at our routes and accepting bookings until 8pm. We will also introduce a reliable online reservation system very soon,” he said on January 22.
“We have already opened our branch offices at many of our destinations, including Heho, Mandalay, Nyaung Oo and Kengtung, and offices at some other destinations are still under development. Passengers can also buy [tickets] from our branch offices during their trip,” he said.
To entice customers, the airline will also offer a free shuttle service for those travelling to Mandalay. “It is quite far from Mandalay Airport to downtown so that’s why we decided to offer a free ferry from the airport.”
Another new carrier, Air Kanbawza, backed by Kanbawza Bank, is expected to soon follow Asian Wings into the domestic market, joining Air Mandalay, Air Bagan and state-run Myanma Airways.
Local travel operators said last week an expansion in capacity on the domestic network would be needed to meet demand in the coming peak season.
“I welcome the new Asian Wings Airline. As tourist arrival numbers are increasing on last year, we really need more domestic flights to access destinations. For passengers it just means another option when planning their trip,” said U Lynn Zaw Wai Mang, executive director of Unique Asia Travel and Tour.
The launch of Asian Wings comes less than two months after Yangon Airways was forced to suspend services. The stoppage came after the Department of Civil Aviation revoked the airline’s Air Operation Certificate for undisclosed reasons.