Carriers near key heritage link to Bagan

29 January 2003


PHNOM PENH - In a move that could prove a landmark decision for Myanmar, Bangkok Airways and Myanmar 's tourism ministry were in talks yesterday on linking the Mekong's two heritage jewels, Angkor Wat and Bagan, with direct flights.

President and chief executive of Bangkok Airways, Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth was in the InterContinental Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss the route.

He told TravelWeekly Myanmar had called the meeting and he was uncertain of the exact nature of the talks.

Asked when the flights may begin, he said, "They have allowed us to fly. But I don't know yet."

Director general for Myanmar's Directorate of Hotels & Tourism, Khin Maung Latt, told TravelWeekly that Myanmar's government was keen to build the link.

"My minister is talking to Bangkok Airways today. We are in discussions to link the two ancient cities of Bagan and Angkor.

"Given agreement, if approved, we could implement it in one or two months," said Khin. Bagan's airport was ready, he said.

Khin said that his department would be ready to promote the route once it came online.

He also confirmed that Bangkok private carrier PB Air is demonstrating interest in Bagan. "PB made eight charter flights to Bagan this month." Bagan is the jewel in Myanmar's crown in terms of heritage sites, and buyers at ATF riding the growing wave of interest in heritage and culture in the Mekong region will no doubt grab the opportunity to feed passengers on from Angkor.

In an interview at last year's ITB, Dr Prasert confirmed his desire to do for Bagan what his company had begun for Angkor Wat, when it launched the direct route from Bangkok.

"We want to combine the Wonders of the World. We are talking to the Myanmar government to renovate Bagan, in the same way as we spoke to the Cambodian government to renovate Angkor Wat.

"Angkor is 700 years old, Bagan is 1,300 years old, Xian is more than 2,000 years old. If we can link this triangle, culture lovers will save them."

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