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The mystery of Myanmar’s missing airlines

The Thaiger

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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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Goodbye e-commerce, hello ‘new retail’

The Thaiger & The Nation

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PHOTOS: Alibaba Group

Our lifestyles are quickly evolving as the digital age kills off the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ inexorably creeps in to our daily life. Goodby Kodak and Polaroid – hello smartphone cameras and Facebook. Goodbye newspapers – hello instant news websites, blogs and live-streaming.

The same is happening to retail as the shopfront moves to websites and screens around the world, shopping centres re-invent their approach to shoppers. We’ve heard of ‘new media’ – welcome now to ‘new retail’. E-commerce is already outmoded.

China’s Alibaba Group has launched what it calls the age of “New Retail”, which the online giant says will replace today’s “e-commerce”.  New Retail will see the distinction between online and offline retail businesses soon disappear, the Chinese conglomerate said. The company is testing the new model at Hema, one of its New Retail brands, in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and other large Chinese cities.

At Hema, a premium-quality supermarket front with a wide range of home delivery services, consumers living within a 3 kilometre radius can get home delivery of fresh food items, fruit (including Thai durians), vegetables and other daily necessities within 30 minutes of placing an order.

The service is part of a so-called 3-in-1 retail experience that covers tech-driven online delivery, in-store purchases and in-store consumption.

Big data and cloud computing are among the key infrastructures supporting the use of artificial intelligence where both online and offline platforms converge through mobile and enterprise technology. For example, consumers can visit the Hema intelligent supermarket when they wish, or may prefer to stay home on a rainy day and order anything, including fresh seafood like king crabs imported from Alaska, have them cooked in a preferred style and home-delivered.

The price of imported seafood in this instance is competitive largely because of Alibaba’s global reach for imported products, which are bought directly from suppliers without layers of middlemen.

At present, more than 50 Hema branches are operational in China where mobile payment is a key driver of the Chinese digital economy that has been expanding rapidly into foreign markets, such as Thailand.
Alipay, part of Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, is helping to turn China into a cashless society as mobile phones and apps become the predominant payment platform.

In Thailand, Alipay’s merchant network now covers hundreds of thousands of locations across the country, especially in tourist areas, as a huge number of the nearly 10 million Chinese visitors to Thailand each year use such a payment platform.

In addition, Ant Financial and Thailand’s CP Group have jointly launched the TrueMoney Wallet to provide payment and other financial services using technology to promote a cashless society here.
For e-commerce customers, Lazada, also majority-owned by Alibaba Group, is currently the front-runner in the Thai market.

On a global scale, Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce retailer in terms of gross merchandise value with 552 million active consumers, as of March this year, mainly on its giant Taobao and Tmall platforms for Chinese consumers.

The group’s eco-system encompasses retail commerce, consumer service, wholesale commerce, digital media and entertainment as well as new innovative initiatives supported by logistic, payment, financial and cloud computing services.

James Xu, deputy chief representative of Alibaba Group’s Thailand market, said the group had already signed four MoUs with the Thai government to implement a wide range of collaborative programmes.
The group’s eco-system will be used to help leverage the Thailand 4.0 initiative with a focus on the Eastern Economic Corridor. In addition, Alibaba will help develop Thai small and medium enterprises (SMEs), farmers and financial services.

In the tourism sector, Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel service platform, is working with Alipay and Thai tourism authorities to attract a new generation of Chinese tourists to Thailand and offer them a cashless travel experience.

SOURCE: The Nation Weekend

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Bangkok

Former Thai actor arrested over Bitcoin scam

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A once-popular actor has been charged with convincing foreigners to transfer to him more than 5,500 bitcoins as an investment.

(5,500 Bitcoin are worth around 210,000 baht or US$6,300 each as of today)

Police picked up 27 year old Jiratphisit Jarawitchit today at midday at a shopping mall in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district.

The Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for him and six alleged accomplices on July 26. Jiraphisit was being detained at Crime Suppression Division headquarters pending further interrogation.

Police said he and the others got foreign investors to transfer them 5,564 bitcoins to invest in a cryptocurrency called ‘dragon coin’ and buy shares in other firms, including X-Pay Software, NX Chain Inc and DNA 2002.

But the investors did not receive the promised yields and were never invited to attend shareholder meetings. Suspecting they’d been deceived, they filed complaints with the CSD.

SOTRY: The Nation

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Business

Sony’s new Xperia XZ2 Premium with ultra-high sensitivity dual camera

The Thaiger

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Sony Thailand steps up its game with new smartphones introduced to compete offerings from some of the Chinese companies as well as Samsung and Apple. Sony have announced the new XZ2 Premium, which has one of the most remarkable cameras ever integrated into a smartphone.

The new phone boasts the world’s highest ISO 12800 sensitivity for video recording in a smartphone, as well as ultra-high sensitivity of 51200 for photos, enabling ultra-low-light capture previously only seen in interchangeable lens cameras (and with a bright live view-finder). It’s all thanks to the new dual sensor system in the Motion Eye™ Dual camera and AUBE™ fusion image signal processor which captures more than the human eye can see.

XZ2 Premium you can also film like the pros using its 4K HDR Movie recording and play it back in the palm of the hand on the 4K HDR display, showcasing favourite moments in crystal-clear detail and eye-popping colour and contrast. It’s the only smartphone to bring true professional camera quality plus a premium entertainment experience, all powered by the ultimate in processing power with Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845.

Satoshi Mekata, General Manager for Mobile Sales Division, Sony Thailand says, “We have taken a bold direction with the latest technology integrated into the camera of the new XZ2 Premium, for high sensitivity performance under all conditions. Under our concept of Camera to the Extreme, we are pleased to announce this is the world’s first ever smartphone to feature the new Motion Eye™ Dual camera working in harmony with AUBE™ technology, and together they ensure premium quality and crystal-clear detail”.

Unprecedented camera capabilities

XZ2 Premium is the first ever smartphone to feature the new Motion Eye™ Dual camera, consisting of a black and white sensor for capturing clear contrast and the colour image sensor for accurate colouring in. Detail from both sensors is then processed by the AUBE™ fusion image signal processor in real time, enabling video recording with the highest ISO12800 sensitivity ever in a smartphone as well as ultra-sensitive performance of ISO51200 for photos. Its sensitivity with clean, noise-less images was previously only possible in interchangeable lens cameras.

With the Motion Eye™ Dual camera you can also express your artistic side – select Bokeh and see your shooting subject stand out from a defocused background. You can take timeless photos in monochrome with a smooth gradation between black and white. Its low light capability, as well as artistic effects, are available with a live view-finder for an accurate reflection of your shooting subject.

Motion Eye™ Dual camera also brings more professional features such as 4K HDR Movie recording so you can capture reality in incredible detail and true-to-life colour. You can record 960fps Super-slow-motion in HD or Full HD to make the most dramatic videos from passing moments with a state-of-the-art memory-stacked image sensor. XZ2 Premium also offers one of the best front-facing cameras on a smartphone, with its 13MP, 1/3.06” low-light sensor and display flash, you’ll get outstanding selfies in any light.

Immersive viewing

Xperia XZ2 Premium has the ultimate display for a premium viewing experience with a huge spec consisting of 5.8” 4K HDR that’s 11% larger and 30% brighter than our previous 4K HDR display, so you can immerse yourself in your favourite movies and content in crystal-clear detail and eye-popping colour. Thanks to this display you can enjoy your very own 4K HDR content as it’s the only smartphone capable of both creating and viewing 4K HDR. Plus whether you’re watching a big blockbuster or a video on YouTube, XZ2 Premium uses Sony’s BRAVIA® TV technology, X-Reality™ for mobile to up-convert content to near High Dynamic Range (HDR) for more cinematic contrast, colour and clarity.

Not only can you see your movies with powerful realism, you can even feel them thanks to Sony’s brand new Dynamic Vibration System. The system analyses audio data and lets you feel the action in your hands, bringing movies, games and videos to life. XZ2 Premium creates a cinema-like audio effect when you’re sharing your favourite videos with your friends thanks to its powerful front facing stereo speakers. Featuring S-Force Front Surround, they’re our loudest Xperia speakers ever. Plus Sony’s audio expertise as always enables sound enhancing technologies for Xperia such Hi-res Audio, DSHEE HX and LDAC.

Sophisticated design

XZ2 Premium’s cutting-edge technology is packed into a fluid and elegant design. It has a 3D glass surface which surrounds the exterior, creating a seamless finish that’s comfortable to hold and easy to carry. With an exclusive glass and metal finish, it not only looks beautiful with a premium feel but is designed to be durable thanks to Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 on both sides. Certified IP65/IP68, XZ2 Premium is also designed to withstand splashes and spills. It will be available in one contemporary colour finish, Chrome Black.

Ultimate Performance to the Extreme

Enjoy industry-leading performance with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 845 Mobile Platform, and with X20 LTE you get immersive user experiences at lightning-fast connection speeds (up to 1.2Gbps) with the second generation Gigabit LTE solution. For additional speed and efficiency XZ2 Premium has 6GB RAM.

XZ2 Premium is built to keep you going all day with its high capacity 3540mAh battery and Xperia’s useful battery features such as Smart Stamina and STAMINA mode. Plus Battery Care and Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology help the battery stay healthy to give you a longer battery lifespan. Qi charging is enabled to power up effortlessly and works with the new wireless charging dock (WCH20) and other compatible Qi chargers.

Availability

XZ2 Premium is available for pre booking from August 10-19, 2018 and it will be available in the Thai market from August 29, 2018 onwards at the price of 27,990 baht, offered in Chrome Black colour.

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