Imphal—Mandalay Flights From Nov 23

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LOOKEAST REPORT |

MYANMARESE private airline Air KBZ will start operating twice–a–week flights on the Imphal—Mandalay route from Nov 23.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh made the formal announcement of the first ever international flight from Imphal airport.

This makes Imphal the second airport in Northeast to receive international flights.

■ Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh with officials | Twitter

Bhutanese carrier Druk Air connects Guwahati to Paro in the Himalayan kingdom. SpiceJet closed down the Dhaka—Guwahati flight after operating it for a while, but Bangladesh’s growing number of private airlines are reportedly trying to fly on this route.

 

Burmese Buddhist pilgrims might find the Mandalay—Imphal—Calcutta route cheaper to reach Bodh Gaya and Sarnath

 

The Air KBZ flights on the Imphal—Mandalay route will operate on Wednesday and Saturday.

Tour operators say this might boost tourist inflows into Manipur.

Abhra Bhattacharya of Kolkata–based Innovative Tours says Japanese and Western tourists visiting Myanmar might treat visiting Manipur as an useful add–on.

“If we market the Second World War battlegrounds as a worthy destination, Imphal will attract lots of Western and Japanese tourists… we can package Mandalay and Imphal as part of a war nostalgia package,” he said.

Buddhist tour circuit operator Mrinal Chakma says Burmese Buddhist pilgrims might find the Mandalay—Imphal—Calcutta route cheaper to reach Bodh Gaya and Sarnath.

 

Imphal was not among the points of call under the current agreement, it has to be added to the list in a revised agreement. Bilateral ASAs provide for carriers from the respective countries to operate flights to specified places in each other’s territory. The ASA has now been changed to include Imphal.

 

”We can explore group tourism options on this route,” said Chakma who runs the Buddhabhumi Parikrama with his wife.

Media reports in September had suggested that Air KBZ would be able to operate flights between Mandalay and Imphal only after the bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) between the two countries is changed.

Since Imphal was not among the points of call under the current agreement, it has to be added to the list in a revised agreement.

Bilateral ASAs provide for carriers from the respective countries to operate flights to specified places in each other’s territory.

The ASA has now been changed to include Imphal.

Mandalay is Myanmar’s second biggest city after Yangon.

The Imphal—Mandalay flight can give Manipuris air connection to other parts of south–east Asia because Mandalay, which is also well connected to China, Thailand and other destinations in the ASEAN region.

Air Kanbawza, otherwise known as Air KBZ, was established in June 2010.

The airline is owned by Kanbawza Bank and began operations with a Yangon—Bagan—Nyaung Oo—Mandalay—Heho—Yangon flight on April 2, 2011. ■

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