Myanmar’s national aviation policy should be ready by 2014

YANGON, Myanmar - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Myanmar needs a national aviation policy.

Myanmar’s national aviation policy should be ready by 2014

YANGON, Myanmar – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Myanmar needs a national aviation policy.

In a written reply to queries, IATA said the policy must take into account factors like expected traffic growth, government regulation and personnel training.

In response, Myanmar’s Civil Aviation Department said such a policy is being drafted and should be ready by 2014.

Myanmar’s aviation sector has never been considered a leader in the field given its decades of isolation from the international community.

But as the country transforms, its civil aviation department believes Myanmar can become a Southeast Asian aviation hub.

Win Swe Tun, deputy director general at the Department of Civil Aviation, said: “(For a) long time, we (have been) without the specific aviation policy. We just accept the foreign operators. We have no practice of the marketing or attraction to the foreign operator. But now, it’s a good opportunity for more (international) relationships… But on the other side, it’s a challenge for us. So we definitely need the policy also.”

Currently, Myanmar’s civil aviation authority is both the regulator and manager of the country’s airports.

However, Mr Win Swe Tun noted that plans are underway to farm out the operations of a service provider to another agency.

Another challenge is the need to boost the less-than-desired reputation of Myanmar’s local airlines.

Authorities are now giving this high-priority attention.

Mr Win Swe Tun said: “We had no restriction about the aircraft. But in 2011, we restricted the existing aircraft, not to use any more after 25 years. And for new batches or hire aircraft, it can be used up to 20 years and also for the operation, we have safety oversight system and also from the airlines, we have safety management system so we need to take more care of the safety issue.”

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Over the last two months, Myanma Airways encountered two incidences with one plane skidding off the runway, while another overshot the end of a runway, injuring two.

Last December, Air Bagan suffered a crash landing, killing two passengers and injuring about 10 others.

With increased air travel within Myanmar, safety takes centre stage.

Sao Thanda Noi, deputy managing director at Air Bagan, said: “I also agree and understand that people will be aware of the safety issues for the airlines in Myanmar. Also, we’re adding more aircraft and newer aircraft to our fleet. So these are our preparations and process and also we’re training more of our employees to get into the international standards.”

Aung Gyi, managing director at Golden Myanmar Airlines, said: “If we talk about our Myanmar aviation industry, we’re in the kindergarten stage. So far, there’s a bad reputation, but not a big issue, we can recover and go to a certain level in very short period of time. The people who are operating, they have to absorb and they have to accept to the modern, latest technology to go on the safety side. What we’re talking about all the time – safety management system.”

Golden Myanmar has hired foreign industry experts to help train its local staff.

The airline is hoping the government will help provide training and introduce stricter requirements for employee training.

IATA said Myanmar’s national aviation strategy must be tourism and business-friendly. This will enable Myanmar to enjoy the social and economic benefits such as job creation which the aviation sector will bring.

IATA recognizes Myanmar’s efforts in developing its regulatory system, air traffic management as well as airport infrastructure and hopes to see a continued momentum in these efforts.

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