Mandalay airport plans good for airlines

Myanmar Airways International believes hiring Japanese firms to manage Mandalay International Airport will increase the airport’s competitiveness and allow it to grow in tandem with Yangon, the main aviation gateway.

The airline reflects the general viewpoint of most airlines serving the country. They want to see Mandalay turned into a major hub for passenger and cargo traffic serving  major points throughout Asia.

MAI general manager, Daw Aye Mra Tha, was quoted by Myanmar Times as saying that the airline would like to add cargo aircraft flights once the airport is upgraded.

“This part of our future plans, but it depends on the upgrades. Currently we only have cargo services to and from Guangzhou in southern China from Mandalay.”

Business people said the northern airport has lots of potential, if upgrades continue as planned.

Mandalay International Airport will receive an upgrade after two Japanese firms and a Myanmar-focused company signed a 30-year concession agreement to operate and rehabilitate the airport.

The airport has been grossly neglected and its management failed to capitalise on Mandalay’s status as the second largest city in the county a major hub for commerce.

Japan’s Jalux and Mitsubishi Corporation and a subsidiary of Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd inked a deal, 17 November, to take over management of the airport effective March 2015.

Jalux and Mitsubishi each own 45.5% of the venture, while Yoma owns the remaining 9%.

The airport’s upgrade will cost USD100 million. Once completed it could capitalise on Mandalay’s status as a transport hub feeding exports to countries in Asia and Europe, according to Department of Civil Aviation general director U Win Swe Thu.

Mandalay stands at an important crossroads for both roads and rivers. Home to a port for river cargo vessels, produce from a vast area of the central region arrives at the city for distribution.

The airport deal is the first for the country and brings to the table private equity and foreign expertise to manage a major airport, the report said.

Mandalay International Airport opened in 2000. The terminal has the capacity to handle 1,000 passenger arrivals and 1,000 departures per hour, up to 3 million per year. Following expansion the airport could be raised to 15 million passengers a year.

Currently Bangkok Airways, SilkAir, Golden Myanmar, AirAsia, China Eastern Airlines and Myanmar Airways International all operate regional flights connecting Mandalay to Bangkok, Singapore, Kunming in China and Gaya in India.

Source : TTR Weekly