Laos to restore air links with Myanmar

Lao Airlines will begin direct flights to Myanmar in October after a two-decade absence of air links between Vientiane and Yangon.

A Lao Airlines airplane is parked at the tarmac of Vientiane's airport in this file photo from 2011. The Lao national carrier will begin direct flights to Myanmar in October after a two-decade absence of air links between Vientiane and Yangon. (Reuters)

Re-establishing an air link between the two capitals would open doors for investors and tourists, Saleum Tayarathm, director of Lao Airlines' Commercial Department, told the Vientiane Times.

"Our reason for opening the flight to Myanmar is not because we're specifically targeting passengers from Laos and Myanmar, but we're looking at the demand from other countries like China, the Republic of Korea and Japan," Mr Saleum said.

The new air link is part of plans by Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam to build better connections between the Mekong region neighbours.

Lao Airlines stopped flying to Yangon in the 1980s as the route was unprofitable.

But this time it is confident of financial success as Myanmar has become a favourite destination for investors and tourists, Mr Saleum added.

Lao Airlines plans to open a Vientiane-Phnom Penh route later this year, the official said.

Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore are the only destinations in Southeast Asia currently served by Lao Airlines.

The Lao national flag carrier carried about 500,000 passengers in 2010 and jumped to about 900,000 customers last year. It expects to serve 1 million people this year.

Meanwhile, Myanmar Airways International is reportedly interested in an air link between Yangon and the former Laos capital of Luang Prabang.

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