Indonesia's Triputra Unggul Utama has become the latest South-East Asian company to announce proposals for a start-up joint-venture airline in Myanmar, following similar moves by Malaysian, Singapore and Thai investors.

The Indonesian and Myanmar Governments have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a new domestic carrier, specifically to service the country's underdeveloped and difficult-to-access border regions. No start-up date has been given.

Under the MoU, Indonesia will supply the airline with two IPTN-built NC-212 turboprops. Indonesians will also manage the airline, but majority control will rest with the Myanmar transport ministry and state-run carrier Myanmar Airways.

The Myanmar Government also has a 51% stake in Yangon Airways, established in 1996 as a joint venture with the Krong Sombat group of Thailand. The carrier is equipped with two Aero International (Regional) AI(R) ATR 72-210 turboprops on lease from the manufacturer.

Air Mandalay is similarly equipped, with three ATR 72-210s, one on lease from AI(R). It operates to four domestic destinations from Yangon, as well as Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand. The Malaysian-Myanmar joint venture has now been given permission to add three more local destinations, including Sittwee.

The new foreign joint-venture carriers are increasingly being used to supplement Myanmar Airways, which is equipped with an ageing fleet of eight Fokker F27s and F28s and suffers from a reputation for poor service and punctuality. Regional services are provided by Myanmar Airways International, which is 60% owned by QAF of Singapore and equipped with two Malaysian-leased Boeing 737s.

Myanmar, meanwhile, has signed an air-services agreement with Macau, opening up the way for direct services between Yangon and the Portuguese enclave. It has also signed a new air-services agreement with Hong Kong, straddling the territory's return to China at the end of June.

Source: Flight International