Singapore exploring multi-city flights in Myanmar

PM Lee at a reception yesterday with Singaporeans working in Yangon, held at Sedona Hotel, which is built by Singapore developer Keppel Land. The Singaporean community in Myanmar has grown from 150 a decade ago to at least 500 now. And the number loo
PM Lee at a reception yesterday with Singaporeans working in Yangon, held at Sedona Hotel, which is built by Singapore developer Keppel Land. The Singaporean community in Myanmar has grown from 150 a decade ago to at least 500 now. And the number looks set to soar as the country is opening up and is "an adventurous place to be in", PM Lee noted.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Such 'stopover flights' by a S'pore carrier via Yangon or Mandalay will benefit tourists, says PM Lee

Singapore is looking to introduce multi-city flights within Myanmar by its carriers Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, as part of a series of ways the two countries can cooperate more closely.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave these updates yesterday at a reception with Singaporeans in Yangon at Sedona Hotel, which is built by Singapore developer Keppel Land.

These "stopover flights" from Singapore through Yangon or Mandalay would benefit tourists.

"When people come as tourists, they can come to Yangon, stop over for a couple of days, get back onto the next aeroplane, go on to Mandalay and then go home," PM Lee said, calling it a more attractive network of connections.

The 49 direct flights a week between Singapore and Myanmar are international, with flights to and from Singapore and Mandalay, or Singapore and Yangon.

 
 
 

PM Lee said the Myanmar government is keen to work with Singapore to improve connectivity. Both sides have also been discussing ideas that can improve things for their peoples and business communities, he said. "They listened to me. Some of this will move; some of the others, they will still study."

A key announcement on Tuesday was visa-free travel between Singapore and Myanmar for 30-day trips by their citizens. It will take effect on Dec 1.

PM Lee told the 300 Singaporeans at the reception: "I hope when your family members come back and forth, it will be more convenient for them. They won't have to apply for a visa, and you'll keep in touch with home more often."

The Singaporean community in Myanmar has grown from 150 a decade ago to at least 500 now.

The number looks set to soar as Myanmar is opening up and is "an adventurous place to be in", PM Lee noted. "Not everything is solved yet, so there is some uncertainty... but that's what it means to be on the frontier. We need Singaporeans to be out there, finding new opportunities and doing well."

Agreeing, Mr Lim Chong Chong, 38, group chief financial officer in a Myanmar company, told The Straits Times: "There are a lot of jobs and business opportunities in Myanmar for Singaporeans, but many are scared off by their negative impressions of the country."

He cheered the visa exemption, saying: "It will make life easier, not having to keep going to the embassy to get a visa."

Earlier yesterday, PM Lee had several meetings in Naypyitaw.

At Union Parliament building, he separately met Lower House Speaker Win Myint and Mr Mahn Win Khaing Than, the Upper House and Parliament Speaker.

They affirmed the strong ties between their peoples and Parliaments, said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

The two Myanmar leaders also expressed their appreciation to PM Lee for Singapore's support of their country's human resource development.

PM Lee later met the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. They discussed regional and international developments, and bilateral cooperation in human resource development and security.

Before flying to Naypyitaw, PM Lee had tea with former president Thein Sein, whose Union Solidarity and Development Party previously ruled Myanmar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore exploring multi-city flights in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe