More Jetstar flights to Myanmar

Period buses ferrying tourists around Yangon. By easing visa requirements for foreign travellers, Myanmar hopes to increase visitor arrivals and boost its tourism industry.
Period buses ferrying tourists around Yangon. By easing visa requirements for foreign travellers, Myanmar hopes to increase visitor arrivals and boost its tourism industry. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Budget carrier keen to cash in on country's move to scrap visas for Singapore tourists come Dec 1

Budget airline Jetstar Asia is planning to launch three extra flights a week to Yangon, after Myanmar announced plans to scrap visa requirements for Singaporeans.

The exemption will kick in on Dec 1, and the Singapore-based airline intends to capitalise on the move at the same time, by increasing the number of weekly flights to and from the country's former capital from 10 to 13.

Jetstar Asia chief Bara Pasupathi said: "The announcement of a visa waiver for travel between the two countries is indeed welcome news for boosting further tourism and more convenient business travel.

"We have served a million customers on this route thus far, and our additional services will cater for the expected increase in people flow between Singapore and Yangon."

Jetstar Asia started operating three flights a week to Yangon in 2005 and has since increased the number to 10.

The extra flights planned will increase the total number of seats offered on Jetstar flights between Singapore and Yangon to about 250,000.

Tickets for the new flights on Jetstar were made available for purchase on Thursday. Prices start at $40 for a one-way ticket.

Rivals Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Tigerair told The Straits Times they currently have no plans to increase the number of flights between Singapore and Myanmar.

SIA, which serves Yangon and Mandalay, has 20 weekly flights to Yangon. Its regional arm, SilkAir, provides 13 of those, plus three weekly flights to Mandalay. Tigerair offers five weekly flights to Yangon.

Travel agents have welcomed the increase in flights and the easing of visa requirements.

Ms Jane Chang, who heads marketing communications at Chan Brothers Travel, said demand for travel to Myanmar had grown 30 per cent year-on-year over the past three years.

"Demand for travel to Myanmar is still niche when compared with that to other regional destinations," she said, citing lack of awareness and steeper costs.

"However, the relaxation of visa requirements for Singaporeans will definitely be a boost for travel, especially since regional destinations tend to see significant late booking patterns of less than 45 days, which might have been deterred previously by the need for lengthy visa applications."

Increased air travel between Singapore and Myanmar could also raise Changi Airport's status as a regional hub for air travel.

Singapore Management University Assistant Professor Terence Fan, who specialises in transport, said: "Singapore-based carriers typically have a strong following from other parts of the world, and for them to serve such routes would entice these travellers to think more about planning longer trips to Myanmar through Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'More Jetstar flights to Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe