YANGON — Chinese low-cost airline 9 Air on Sunday launched direct flights between Yangon and Guangzhou in southern China, less than a month after the carrier launched its first international flight, to Mandalay, on October 2.
9 Air, central and southern China’s first low-cost carrier, began operations in 2014 from its base in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province. A subsidiary of Juneyao Airlines, it now operates over 40 domestic routes with a fleet of 16 Boeing 737-800 planes.
The airline has regional expansion plans: by 2025 it aims to operate 80 aircraft with services to destinations including Kalibo in the Philippines, Bangkok in Thailand, Da Nang in Vietnam and “popular cities in Japan” according to a statement by Yangon Aerodrome Company, the operator of Yangon International Airport.
The statement said flights from Guangzhou to Yangon would run four times each week, with low-fare options starting at less than US$100. “This new route will substantially meet the needs of business travelers, family visits and general tourism,” it said.
9 Air will compete on this route against China Southern Airlines and Myanmar Airways International, which is 80 percent owned by Kanbawza Group and is the only private airline in Myanmar to operate international flights.
There were 452 flights last year between Guangzhou and Yangon, which transported some 40,000 people, according to Ministry of Hotels and Tourism data, with an average seat occupancy rate of 63 percent.
The number of Chinese visitors to Myanmar has increased exponentially over the past five years, from 70,805 in 2012, to 212,642 in 2017, ministry data shows, accounting last year for some 15 percent of total international visitors.