Kanbawza to launch domestic airline on April 1
March 28 - April 3, 2011
Air KBZ chief executive officer U Oakkar Tun at a March 24 press conference. Pic: Lwin Maung Maung
COMPETITION in the domestic airline industry is set to heat up with a fifth carrier – Air KBZ, owned by Kanbawza Bank – announcing last week it would begin flights on April 1.
The airline had been planning to launch last year ahead of the peak tourist season but was unable to secure aircraft. Managing director U Moe San Aung conceded at a press conference in Yangon on March 24 that April was “not the right time to launch the airline” but decided to press on and prepare for the next tourist season.
“We want to be ready for the coming tourist season in October,” U Moe San Aung said. “The reason why we have decided to launch a new domestic airline is to give better services and safety to passengers and to help meet demand, especially during the tourist season.”
He said that Air KBZ did not “plan to compete with other domestic airlines”.
The airline will start operations with just one aircraft – a 64-seat ATR 72-500 – but plans to add three more before the end of the year, U Moe San Aung said.
“We will add one more aircraft in early April and another two aircraft will be added later this year. We will have altogether four ATR 72-500s,” he told reporters at Parkroyal Hotel in Yangon.
Air KBZ’s first routes will be a daily Yangon-Nyaung Oo-Mandalay-Heho-Yangon departing Yangon at 8am and returning at 12:35pm and a daily Yangon-Myeik-Yangon flight in the afternoon.
Airline chief executive officer U Oakkar Tun said Air KBZ had received permission from the Department of Civil Aviation to operate not only domestic but also international flights.
“Air KBZ will also fly international routes in the near future but to start off with we will only have domestic flights,” he said.
Assistant general manager U Myat Thu said other local destinations would be added about one month after the airline’s launch.
“In early May we plan to start flying to other key destinations including Tachileik, Kengtung, Myitkyina, Sittwe, Thandwe, Pathein, Lashio, Putao, Kawthoung, Dawei, Mawlamyine and Kalay,” he said.
U Myat Thu said the airline would benefit from Kanbawza’s 80 percent stake in the national carrier, Myanmar Airways International (MAI).
“We will also introduce a reliable online reservation system very soon – the system is now under development. And we will also sign a bilateral agreement with MAI to offer domestic ticket booking through MAI ticketing agents abroad. Under the agreement, passengers will be able to buy domestic tickets through MAI agents and passengers can also buy MAI tickets through Air KBZ’s agents.”
The airline has opened a head office in Yangon in the Myanma Airways building on Strand Road as well as branch offices in Nyaung Oo, Mandalay, Heho and Taunggyi.
Air KBZ will join Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Asian Wings and state-run Myanma Airways in the domestic airline industry.
Kanbawza is owned by U Aung Ko Win and based in Taunggyi, southern Shan State.