Will Bagan Finally Get International Flights?

One of the most requested destination in Myanmar is Nyaung-U Airport, the airfield next to Myanmar’s famed archaelogical site of Bagan. The airport offers limited facilities: its unique runway measures only 2,591 by 30 metres, a length which is sufficient to welcome aircraft as big as the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737.

The airport is currently connected to half a dozen destinations all located inside of Myanmar. Five domestic carriers fly to Bagan, competition being the most intense to Heho (Inlay Lake), Mandalay and Yangon. However, many international airlines would now like to be able to link Myanmar most famous archaelogical and religious site with regional destinations.

Thai regional carrier Bangkok Airways already expressed its interest to fly Bangkok or/and Chiang Mai to Bagan. According to local newspapers, it seems that talks have also been initiated to open direct flights between Bagan and Siem Reap in Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat

An official at the Bagan Nyaung-U airport in Mandalay Region said to a local newspaper: “The plan was initiated by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when she visited Cambodia. We had talks between the two governments. The exact plan has yet to be released. We’re now installing immigration equipment at the airport.”

The absence of immigration facilities (counters, visa delivery, currency exchange and ATM) as well as customs facilities has so far been the principal handicap to establish international direct flights.

According to authorities, many airlines are interested in international flights to Bagan, according to the tourism sector sources. In a recent study done over Bagan hotels’ capacity by consulting company C9 Hotelworks, Bagan received last year 282,387 international visitors, up by 17% compared to 2015. Europe and the USA represent approximately 24% of total international source markets, followed by Asia at 14%. Currently, Nyaung U Airport is the main gateway, accounting for 44% of total foreign visitors.