Myanmar airline eyes foreign routes after ANA tie-up

Myanmar airline eyes foreign routes after ANA tie-up
Airport staff clean an Asian Wings aircraft at Yangon's international airport on August 27, 2013.

YANGON - Myanmar's Asian Wings airline said on Wednesday it aims to launch international flights by October 2014, following the announcement of the sale of a 49 per cent stake to Japanese carrier ANA.

"We will start with nearby countries," executive director Lwin Oo told reporters, adding the airline also plans to buy 10 more Airbus A320 jets by 2018 as part of its ambitious expansion plans.

On Tuesday, All Nippon Airways (ANA) said it would acquire a 49 per cent stake in Asian Wings, becoming the first foreign firm to take a stake in aviation in the rapidly-opening Southeast Asian market.

Asian Wings, a domestic carrier, said the deal would give it access to global markets and standards.

"ANA will provide us the assistance to gain international recognised standards of safety and services," Lwin Oo said, adding its workforce will gain skills by working with different cultures in an international market.

Foreign firms have piled into Myanmar since the installation of a nominally civilian government in 2011, eager to make the most of opportunities in a fast-changing country.

Myanmar's government, meanwhile, has called for outside investment.

Visitor numbers have surged, with both tourists and business people flocking to the nation.

Asian Wings CEO Kyi Win said the country's aviation sector has great potential.

"Our aviation sector is still very low in Southeast Asia. We expect the country to boom in the near future and if so, the aviation sector will also develop," Kyi Win said.

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