String of Accidents Highlight Myanmar’s Air Safety Record
To date, Myanmar holds a poor reputation when it comes to international aviation safety that’s why all airlines tend to promote their safety as being compared to other carriers around the globe. Remember when Yangon Airways was rebranded as Air Thanlwin in October, its slogan was also modified from You’re safe with us to Safe wings to fly. Another best example is the issue of Shwe Hintha or the so-called in-flight magazine of Golden Myanmar Airlines, it repeatedly features its safety features in several different places.
The majority of the passenger are afraid to fly with Myanmar carriers due to the fear of crashes. Even locals are afraid and reluctant to fly with the country’s carriers even if they were to be given free tickets. The biggest question is that, is it safe to fly with any given carriers in Myanmar?
The majority of the airline representatives declined to comment regarding this issue except for the executive of a carrier who initially agreed to be interviewed but backed out when told about the topic. As you will notice, such topic appears to be on a high level of secrecy. Myanmar’s carriers are not ready to speak out about their safety standing especially if its records raise suspicions.
In Myanmar, there are currently five carriers that are competing for a share of the local market namely Air KBZ which is privately owned, Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) which is state-owned, Air Thanlwin and Mann Yadanarpon Airlines (MYA). Myanmar Airways International (MAI) does operate internationally but entered a codeshare agreement with Air KBZ. Both carriers are then owned by the KBZ group. On the other hand, MAI and MNA are both battling for the market leader in international operations while MNA and Air KBZ for domestic routes which have 17 and 10 aircraft respectively. As per the recent report, the said carriers account for more than half of the domestic target market.
This year, there are four known aviation-related accidents and three of which involved Myanmar carriers. In May, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines De Havilland DHC 8 crashed wherein 19 out of 36 people were hospitalized. A few days after, MNA Embraer E190 made an emergency landing though no one was hurt. In August, both of the nose wheels came off during touchdown by a GMA ATR 72-600 and a week later, another GMA flight need to make an emergency landing due to electrical system failure.
Perhaps, the major problem here is the lack of reporting of the mishaps. Leading to the conclusion that the carriers’ desire to achieve optimum safety levels is not so clear.