INDIAN airlines have been given the green light to commence the first direct flights to Myanmar, effective immediately.
Following a series of bilateral talks at World Economic Forum on East Asia 2013 in Naypyidaw last week, Indian commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma, said Myanmar had granted India’s airlines the right to run services between the two countries.
There are currently no direct flights between India and Myanmar.
So far, SpiceJet has applied for flying rights to connect New Delhi to Yangon, via Dhaka.
Khin Zaw Nichols, managing director, Yangon-based Tour Mandalay, said: “Myanmar is returning to a stable and prominent position vis-a-vis other South-east Asian countries. Opening up connectivity will not only add revenue from tourism and trade, but also open up mutual learning processes and cooperation.”
Seema Ahmed, general manager, Kolkata-based Gainwell Travel & Leisure, said: “Tourism will certainly increase manifold (with the commencement of flights). We expect flights from Kolkata to Yangon to start soon too, as there is trade between these two cities and Kolkata is the nearest gateway for Buddhist pilgrims visiting India.”
India is the 13th largest source market for Myanmar, sending 16,868 arrivals in 2012, a 2.8 per cent year-on-year increase. Myanmar offers visas on arrival for Indian business travellers.
Meanwhile, progress on the 1,368km trilateral highway spanning Manipur, India to Mae Sot, Thailand through Myanmar, has reached the halfway mark. Construction began in 2010 and the highway is expected to be operational by 2016.