A couple of months ago, in early December 2020, Justice For Myanmar, a covert group of activists collecting evidence and exposing the vast business network of the military’s activities, had reported about how the military had signed in 2019 a USD 4.8 million agreement for the luxury refurbishment of an Airbus A319 formerly used by Myanmar Airways International (MAI), an airline owned by KBZ Group and 24 Hours Group.
Another activist organization, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), had then revealed details of the contract signed by the head of Myanmar’s air force. It showed that Hong Kong company HAECO Xiamen was commissioned to upgrade the aircraft with “a first-class compartment, luxury leather, new carpets, in-flight entertainment on personal devices, monitors to display moving maps, on-board wi-fi, etc.”
HAECO Xiamen is a subsidiary of aircraft engineering firm HAECO, based at Hong Kong International Airport. While it refused to comment on the contract back in December, the company said last Wednesday that the USD 4.8 million deal had been called off.
“HAECO can confirm that it had a contract with a Myanmar company called Aero Sofi to carry out work on an aircraft. The contract was terminated last month, before any work had been carried out on the aircraft,” the company said in an email to OCCRP.
Aero Sofi, a company based in Yangon, arranged the deal between MAI and the Air Force and is owned by former Air Mandalay CEO and British citizen Sai Kham Park Hpa. Aero Sofi’s managing director and co-owner, Patrick Aung, is also a Director of National Tower Development Co., a business serving mobile network operator Mytel.
In addition to the civilian airliner set to be refurbished to VIP standards, Aero Sofi was also involved, as shown in leaked procurement documents, in the purchase of two military transport planes (Airbus CASA C-295s) from the Royal Jordanian Air Force for USD 38.6 million. It is yet unknown whether these planes have been delivered.