Yangon Airways: Owned by drug dealers and expanding due to new French technology?

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Yangon Airways was established in October 1996 as a domestic airline in a joint venture between Myanma Airways, the state-owned flag carrier in Myanmar, and Krong-Sombat Company of Thailand. The airline bases its headquarters and maintenance station in Yangon. In October 1997, the current owner of the airline acquired the share of the Thai company and then acquired the share of the Myanma Airways in 2005. Thereafter, the airline became a fully privately owned airline in Myanmar. The airline then evolved into a principal domestic service carrier, operating schedule and charter flight services from Yangon to 13 prime commercial and tourist destinations in Myanmar. During the past three years, Yangon Airways has been progressively gaining market share; it has about 37% in 2007 and increased to 41% in 2008.

Another airline by the same name  Yangon-Airways states on their website www.yangonair.com that www.yangon-airways.com, is not affiliated with Yangon Airways Ltd.  The airline says that airline belongs to ECCR Travel which is no longer Yangon Airways’ General Sales Agent. “We cannot take responsibility for any tickets or bookings from this website.

It gets confusing when it’s not clear which of the two airlines with the same name was listed by the United States Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. Under United States federal law, Americans are prohibited from doing business with individuals or entities listed as an SDN. Yangon Airways was designated by OFAC in 2008 after having been acquired by notorious drug traffickers of the United Wa State Army.

Yangon Airways has migrated to the Zenith® PSS (Passenger Service System), provided by TTI (Travel Technology Interactive).

Mr. Aung Min Khaing, Managing Director of Yangon Airways said, ‘The migration to the Zenith® PSS was a great success, with the TTI team working seamlessly with the Yangon Airways operations teams, it went very smoothly and has allowed us to have greater control of our fares and inventory management. We are already seeing benefits and efficiencies in our business processes from the ease-of-use and rich functionality of Zenith®.’

Mr. Aung Min Khaing continued, ‘The move to the Zenith® PSS is the first step as part of our business expansion program, where we will increase our sales reach, connect with Online Travel Agents via the Zenith® API and, we are also considering Codeshare and Interline, which Zenith® will enable for us. TTI’s long and successful presence in Myanmar brings significant benefit to Yangon Airways.’

Mr. Gregoire Echalier, CEO of TTI said, ‘It has been a great pleasure to work with the Yangon Airways team on this important migration, their diligence and professionalism has been exemplary.’

According to Paul Martin, Public relation spokesperson for TTI the airline is not taking credit cards what could be due to the U.S. boycott.

Echalier continued, ‘We are excited to be a part of the Yangon Airways growth, enabling them to broaden their sales reach as well as their operational capabilities and partnerships with other Airlines. TTI has had several Airline Customers for Zenith® in Myanmar, for some years now, adding Yangon Airways to our Zenith Customer base truly demonstrates our ability to manage the PSS / IT business for Airlines in South East Asia’.

Travel Technology Interactive Group is a French-based international company. It is a solution provider for the air transport industry, specialized in IT software for the management of airlines

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.