Air Thanlwin will become Myanmar’s latest airline to resume domestic flights. On May 30, the airline will begin offering round trip flights from Yangon and Mandalay to Sittwe, Tachilek, Myitkyina, Kengtung, Heho and Khamti.
When it resumes operations, the company will join Air KBZ, Golden Myanmar Airways, Myanmar National Airlines and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, which began conducting flights this month following the lifting of government restrictions. International flights, however, are still grounded. The Department of Civil Aviation banned international air travel in mid March in order to curtail the spread of COVID-19, and the date for the lifting of the ban was since extended from May 15 to May 31.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the aviation industry had been extremely optimistic, with many domestic airlines expanding their fleets and introducing new routes, ostensibly to serve the growing numbers of tourists from China. Thus, with travel restrictions for Chinese tourists in January and February, the industry began to feel the pinch even before the blanket moratorium on air travel. Today, although Myanmar’s airlines have returned to the skies, many nations are maintaining their own lockdown measures, and would-be travelers are continuing to cancel their plans. It is impossible to tell how long it will take for the aviation industry, and indeed entire tourism sector, to return to pre-pandemic levels.