A dozen of new routes were recently launched or are due to come to further connect Myanmar to the rest of Asia. The most important link is the long-expected route finally linking Phnom Penh to Yangon.
There is rarely a single week in Myanmar without the announcement of a new air route by a Myanmar-based or an international airline. Most of the new routes are linking the country to China following an intensification of political links between both countries and a jump in Chinese tourist arrivals to the country.
June saw the launching of new routes from Xiamen to Yangon by Xiamen Airlines and from Mandalay to Haikou (Hainan Island) by Hainan Airlines. In July, Spring Airlines launched four weekly services from Yangon to Shanghai Pudong in competition with China Eastern which has been flying the same route three times a week since June. Also in July, a new carrier West Air is now flying between Mandalay and Chongqing three times a week.
Myanmar Airways International opened a route linking Yangon to Nanchang with a stop in Mandalay on August 1st. The route is served three times a week. In July, the airline introduced a twice-weekly service linking Yangon to Hangzhou once a week as well as two weekly flights from Mandalay to Hangzhou. The airline is in competition with Sichuan Airlines, which launched in June two weekly frequencies on the same route out of Mandalay.
Symbolic is the start of a new route finally linking Cambodia capital Phnom Penh with Myanmar former capital Yangon. JC International Airlines- a Phnom Penh-based but China-funded carrier- will fly three times a week the route, starting August 15. The airline already launched in July a bizarre triangle flight linking Phnom Penh to Mandalay via… Macau!
Two more routes have been announced in coming months. Come September, Yangon will benefit from a new route to Kolkata with low cost carrier IndiGo starting a daily flight. In December, Flydubai will also start flying from Dubai to Yangon and Krabi. The low cost airline will ply the skies daily between the three cities with a Boeing 737. However, the new Flydubai route will replace Emirates four weekly flights to Yangon in a Boeing 777, corresponding to a downgrading in comfort on the route as passengers will switch from a premium to a low cost service.