Thursday, September 21, 2017

KBZ airlines spread wings to India and Thailand

KBZ group-owned airlines Myanmar Airway International and Air Kanbawza started routes to new destinations this week. MAI now offers direct flights to Kolkata in India, while Air KBZ has become an international carrier and kicked off flights to Chiang Mai.

Flower sellers arrange their stock at a busy market in Kolkata. Photo: EPAFlower sellers arrange their stock at a busy market in Kolkata. Photo: EPA

MAI started twice-weekly round trips to Kolkata on December 1, with an eye on businesspeople and traders. The only other airline operating between Yangon and Kolkata is Air India.

“We intend [the route] to appeal to businesspeople and merchants because there are strong business ties between Myanmar and India,” Daw Aye Mra Tha, general manager of MAI told The Myanmar Times.

The carrier is offering round-trip tickets for $305 for a promotional period that ends in February, when prices will rise to $400, she added. MAI has four Airbus aircraft, and will use A320 and A319 aircraft for the Yangon-Kolkata flight.

MAI applied for the route earlier this year and had hoped to start flights in October.

The Kolkata route is not MAI’s first India service – it has operated flights to the historic city of Gaya for years. MAI also started flights to New Dehli in 2014, but stopped the following year because of weak demand.

Kolkata joins Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Gaya, Guangzhou, and Bangkok on the carrier’s list of international destinations.

MAI has plans for “another international scheduled flight to the Asia region in 2017 but we haven’t confirmed a specific destination yet,” Daw Aye Mra Tha said.

Sister carrier Air KBZ, meanwhile, starts flights to Chiang Mai today – the airline’s first-ever international destination. The flights will run three times a week from Yangon international airport, Daw Aye Mra Tha told The Myanmar Times.

That route is aimed more at Myanmar holiday makers and tourists from Thailand, she added.

“The Chiang Mai flight will bring more foreign visitors to Myanmar and also Myanmar people can easily go to Chiang Main for a leisure trips,” Daw Aye Mra Tha said.

Air KBZ has eight ATR72 turbo props and flies to 15 domestic destinations in addition to Chiang Mai.

The carrier will compete with Bangkok Airways and MNA on the Yangon to Chiang Mai route.

MAI and MNA have also launched flights to Thailand from Mandalay this year. Both carriers started Mandalay-Bangkok routes in the same week at the end of August.