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Getting around Burma Myanmar

Trains and planes

New flight connections to and within Burma (Myanmar)

With tourism booming in Burma (Myanmar), airlines are busy increasing flights, tweaking schedules and adding new destinations, so here’s a brief look at some of the latest air travel information.

Nok Air planes should be brightening up Burmese skies very soon

Nok Air planes should be brightening up Burmese skies very soon.

Airlines adding Burma to their destination list include Tiger Airways, which will add direct Singapore to Yangon (Rangoon) flights from October 1, and Thailand’s Nok Air, which plans to launch an intriguing Mae Sot-Moulmein route, also from October 1.

Yes, we know Mae Sot is in the middle of nowhere, but apparently it would connect with Bangkok to Mae Sot flights and potentially Moulmein to Rangoon connections. According to Nok Air, the flight would cost $80 and take around 20 minutes. Moulmein (Mawlamyine) is a great destination in its own right, but a spin-off might be to make Moulmein-Rangoon connections a bit more reliable.

International options are set to be augmented by Bangkok Airways adding four weekly direct flights from Bangkok to Mandalay from mid-September. Airbus 319s will depart Bangkok at 12:00 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for a 90-minute flight and return from Mandalay to Bangkok on the same days at 14:10, arriving 16:35. Bangkok Airways will also offer three flights weekly (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) to Nyapidaw from October, becoming the first international airline to fly into the Burmese capital. The flight will depart Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) at 17:00 and arrive at 19:00, with the return leaving at 19:30 and landing at 22:30.

More brightly coloured/gaudy delete as necessary Thai planes in Burma's skies in 2013

More brightly coloured/gaudy Thai planes in Burma’s skies in 2013.

On the domestic front, no less than four new airlines are due to open this year to add to the seven already existing ones. That’s a lot of domestic airlines and we really hope this will make domestic air travel more simple, rather than complicating things even further (complicated domestic travel is a whole new post on its own).

New airlines are Yadanabon and Saga, based in Mandalay, and Apex and FMI operating out of Nyapidaw. No further information seems to be available on these companies for now, so watch this space, but certainly more options are needed on popular routes such as Rangoon-Mandalay, Heho-Rangoon and so on, and more reliability is urgently required for the smaller regional airports such as Moulmein, Kawthaung, Sittwe and Kengtung.

A more tasteful livery from Air Mandalay

A more tasteful livery from Air Mandalay.

Another development domestically has been All Nippon Airways (ANA) snapping up a 49% stake in Asian Wings, one of our favourites of the 11 Burmese carriers. This is good news, as it’s got to result in an improvement in service, as well as perhaps international connections.

We’ve also heard an interesting snippet claiming that the Burmese government has announced plans to upgrade the airfield on the Coco Islands to allow scheduled passenger flights from Rangoon. The Cocos are a part of the Andaman island chain that belongs to Burma, and are by all accounts totally unspoilt with pristine beaches and crystal clear waters… but for how much longer now?

About the author:
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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