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The mystery of Myanmar’s missing airlines

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The mystery of Myanmar’s missing airlines | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Asian Wings Airways

Any trip on a local airline usually means planes either full or mostly full. But some of Myanmar’s smaller local airlines have been struggling through this year’s wet season along with a drop in tourism to the country of around 6% for the past 12 months.

At least three airlines appear to have thrown in the towel suspending services without explanation or advance notice. Local newspapers in Myanmar claimed Asian Wings Airways, Apex Airlines and FMI Air have suspended services since July.

Sources claim they were crippled by the country’s high fuel cost and a decline in passenger demand during the monsoon season.

Myanmar has around 11 airlines registered for commercial operations with a nation-wide fleet of 60 aircraft.

Asian Wings Airways, one of the airlines identified in local media reports as having scotched services struck back saying it was still operating.

“It is not true that our airline returned its AOC. We are still running our flights,” public relations Manager Yin Myo told Eleven Myanmar.

However, Asian Wings Airways’ website has been stripped of all content, although the various homepage tabs remain. Even the contact section of the website is empty and the booking engine returns the message “no flights available.”

If it is still flying, as its PR director claims, it is not picking up any bookings from its website.

Eleven Myanmar quoted the Department of Civil Aviation deputy director general, Ye Htut Aung saying: “It is true that Air Bagan and Apex Air have returned their air operator’s certificates (AOC). The rest have not turned them in yet.”

FMI Air suspended all of its services on July 20 after six years operating domestic flights.

A company spokesperson confirmed the decision claiming it was due to unrelenting and unrealistic cost pressures on Myanmar’s domestic aviation industry.

Apex Airlines was also identified by local media and the DCA for suspending all of its services, but the airline’s website offers a glimmer of hope as its booking engine continues to function although it returns the message “no available flights”. Website content has not been scrubbed, but it omits to say why passengers cannot locate any bookable flights.

To complete the picture Air Mandalay is still operating services, although a check of its website showed that it was not taking bookings for flights from Yangon to Tachilek and Myitkyina in August.

Myanmar National Airlines, the country’s national carrier, launched a new service linking Yangon and Phuket in March and within two months dropped the service claiming traffic was insufficient. It hopes to reinstate the twice-weekly service this October.

The problems reflect the state of aviation in Myanmar where there are far too many airlines to serve a market of 3 million domestic passengers and no more than 400,000 foreign tourists.

Domestic airfares are among the most expensive in the region blamed mainly on high fuel costs and government taxes.

SOURCE: ttrweekly.com



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Thai exports fall 5.7 percent in January, year-on-year

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Thai exports fall 5.7 percent in January, year-on-year | The Thaiger

Thai export results have dipped for the third straight month, falling more than 5.65% compared to a year earlier. The fall was a lot bigger than expected, according to the Thai commerce ministry.

Shipments contracted 1.72% in December, compared to a year earlier as well.

January’s export drop was due to falling shipments of rice, gold, electronics and cars, according to the ministry. Digging into the numbers, exports to the US rose 8.3% in the first month of the year, compared to January 2018, but exports to China slumped 16.7%.

The strong Thai baht, Asia’s best performing currency this year, has increasingly hit exports, particularly rice orders.

Checking imports for the same period, and the numbers jumped surprisingly 13.99% year on year, after sliding 8.15% in December 2018. Analysts say the surge in imports was partly due to imports of arms and military weapons.

There was a trade deficit of $4.03 billion in January, compared with a forecast surplus of $320 million surplus. December 2018 had a $1.06 billion surplus.

But the ministry says they are still forecasting export growth of 8% for 2019 after a 6.7% increase last year.

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Business

Strong baht a concern for Thai hotel sector

Bill Barnett

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Strong baht a concern for Thai hotel sector | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett

Thailand’s baht performance against Asian currencies in 2018, was unmatched, with the exception of the Japanese yen.

Commenting on the trend financial news Bloomberg have highlighted that in 2019, a further 4% in growth this year have it sitting at the top of the table.

Oddly, one of the underlying factors stimulating the baht’s appreciation is the recovery in tourism arrivals which has a double-digit impact on the country’s GDP.

While the elections remain a wild card on forward expectations, the reality is that the currency has not been hit like the Chinese yuan, which has been disrupted by a threatened U.S. China trade war and slowdown in its economy.

Despite higher than expected tourism numbers in 2018, hotel owners are cautiously optimistic on the prospects for the year.

In reality, despite rising prices for visitors, the economic climate is leading many property developers turning to hospitality assets as the real estate market remains volatile. The general view is that sustainable cash flow as part of their business mix is good and that tourism fundamentals remain strong.

Still, looking at nearby competitors such as Vietnam, which is rapidly growing from a cub into a tourism tiger, the issue of affordability is concerning. Currency swings remain a real and present factor in demand, so expect hoteliers to keep watching currency levels closely in 2019.

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Thailand’s sponsorship market grew 19% – 2018

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Thailand’s sponsorship market grew 19% – 2018 | The Thaiger

ASN (Asia Sponsorship News) has just released its Sponsorship Market Overview for Thailand 2018. Local agencies have had their say on the performance of the Southeast Asian sponsorship marketplace.

2018 was a robust year for Thailand’s Sponsorship market, growing 19% year-on-year to US$223.4 million (2017’s total investment was US$188.2 million) and making grounds on reaching its previous (outlier) market peak of US$247.8 million in 2015. Since 2015, the market had been creeping backwards to a recent low of US$187.2 million.

General market health -in GDP terms – for Thailand was generally positive. In November last year, the country forecast a slightly reduced GDP forecast in the mid-4% range for itself for the year.

Back to the Sponsorship market and the leading spending brands are as follows; the Top 10 includes the usual major players, but also some newcomers since ASN last analysed the market in 2016…

2018 (US$)
Toyota  11,749,000
Chang  10,347,050
PTT Petroleum  7,372,000
Singha  6,935,525
PTT Group  5,573,000
Tourism Authority of Thailand  5,532,000
Thai Beverage Plc  5,173,050
Adidas  5,075,000
Pepsi  5,065,000
Carabao  4,389,000

These 10 brands contributed almost 30% of the total investment in this Southeast Asian market.

In terms of the movers and shakers within the Top 10, versus 2016…

  • Toyota was 4th spending US$6.8 million
  • Chang was 1st with US$14.4 million
  • AIA was 2nd, Its dramatic fall caused by the cessation of its Thai Umbrella Football Club partnership, with the FAT, in 2017
  • Carabao and Adidas are newcomers for 2018

Then there are the broader market dynamics that moved the needle – across the various ways to slice ASN’s market data:

  • Platforms: Motorsports and Multi-sports outperformed (+98% and +103% respectively); while platform leaders Football (US$90 million in 2018) and Athletics (US$32 million) gained a healthy 23% and 15% respectively
  • Categories: Two of the Top 10 categories – Petrochemicals and Conglomerates – dipped into their budgets significantly in 2018 (+119% and +590% (!) respectively)
  • Genres*: Unsurprisingly, Content was the biggest mover with a 114% uplift. Events, the perennial Genre leader, gained 33% as well

Commenting on the market movements is eponymous Founder of Paul Poole (South East Asia) Company,  a marketing consultancy specialising in commercial sponsorship in Thailand says, “The 19% year-on-year increase in Sponsorship spending in 2018 is testament to a strong industry.”

“To see big brands and organisations such as AIA, King Power, Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT), Honda and Siam Cement Group falling off the list is somewhat of a surprise given their visibility in the marketplace and their sponsorship history.”

“However, it is refreshing to see new additions to the list such as Adidas. It speaks of a dynamic and ever-changing market.”

“Sponsorships have the potential to reach beyond short-term sales to build a brand’s identity. Brand strength contributes 60 to 80% to overall sales, making this benefit critical for sustained, long-term sales growth.”

Poole is convinced consistency is key to building brand awareness and companies like Toyota and Adidas are good examples of companies pushing through content on all platforms, especially social media.

Since brand ambassadors are now typically anyone sharing content – especially online via video content – brands are getting leverage from the increasing use of social media platforms across the world. And Thailand is one of the most gluttonous consumers of online content!

So the Thai market is in good health: let’s see if 2019 can sustain the growth.

To read more of the report click HERE.

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