Air Bagan

Old Dec 24th, 2012, 11:24 PM
  #1  
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Air Bagan

Receiving news that an Air Bagan has crashed with fatalities. Since quite a few Fodorites are in Myanmar right now I am praying that non of them were involved.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 01:37 AM
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Strictly speaking, there shouldn't be any US citizens among the dead or injured because the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control prohibits it's citizens from dealing with the airline under sanctions imposed against Myanmar (Burma). If there are, then they might come unstuck when trying to claim compensation from their travel insurer.

Sad when these things happen though. There's a report here: http://www.dw.de/air-bagan-plane-cra...mar/a-16478055

The aircraft type mentioned, a Fokker 100 ceased production in 1997. They're being phased out by KLM this year, but whether or not Myanmar imposes the same safety standards as those in the EU is doubtful I think.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 02:23 AM
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Just heard from Filmwill and luckily he was not on that flight!

@Xircal - we flew on that Air Bagan plane a few years ago and there were a few US citizens on that flight, inc myself.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 06:10 AM
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AFP are reporting that an 11-year-old girl and one other passenger died, several others injured, during a crash-landing in Shan state: http://www.emirates247.com/news/jet-...12-25-1.488653

Re Xircal: the U.S. government has no business telling its citizens where they may or may not travel.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Sad to hear of a crash in Burma. Hanuman, thanks for the reassurance that you have heard from Filmwill.

Xircal, there is no prohibition on US citizens visiting Burma. While no one can use credit cards there, and there are no bank transfers allowed to Burma, citizens of many countries that have sanctions against Burma have been traveling there for decades.

The airlines in Burma have long been isolated from the rest of the world. They have not been able to purchase planes from manufacturers for many decades, they can only purchase planes on the secondary market. At least as of last year, no airline in Myanmar owned any plane that was less than 20 years old. The airlines invited a US expert on safety to meet with them in Nov 2011 to discuss how they can raise the safety standards of their airlines.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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@ Kathie/Hanuman,

What I wrote is related to this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Bagan#cite_note-4

It is of course up to you whether you take that risk or not. But safety concerns about the country's airline persist and US sanctions mean that Air Bagan cannot obtain parts or new aircraft. The aircraft which crashed was 21.9 years old. No safety checks have ever been published for it.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 11:39 AM
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The Wikipedia article is quite sketchy, offering only the most well-known info about Air Bagan. There are currently 5 privately owned domestic airlines in Burma - Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Air Yangon, Asian Wings, and KZB. There is also Myanmar Air, the government owned airline and Myanmar Air International, a joint venture that flies to/from Yangon from several SE Asian cities.

There economic sanctions against Burma are not just the US, but also Australia, the UK, and the EU. Recent changes in Burma has resulted in some loosening of the sanctions, but the sanctions have not yet been lifted.

No question, the airlines in Burma have never published any safety checks for any aircraft, so far as I know. They operate outside the international aviation community. One does fly these airlines at one's own risk. But flights, even flights on domestic airlines such as these are safer than any other form of travel. Air KZB had an accident upon landing last year, no fatalities.
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Old Dec 25th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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According to the Bangkok Post 2 American, 2 Brits and 1 Korean were amongst the injured. Hopefully nothing serious as the hospitals in Myanmar are a bit below standard.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia...ar-plane-crash
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 05:37 AM
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@ Kathie,

There's also the moral aspect to consider. By visiting the country as a tourist, you're effectively helping the military dictatorship remain in power since all revenue, both foreign and domestic ends up in the military's coffers.

This is also a country which routinely gang rapes women who are kept as sex slaves for the benefit of the army.
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 07:20 AM
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Xircal, I'm afraid your level of knowledge about Burma is significantly less than those you are arguing with. I can give you examples of worse atrocities than what you have cited. Not all money spent in Burma goes to the generals, indeed, one of the ways to support the locals is by spending money with local businesses. Nor did all of the pro-democracy people in Burma support the tourism boycott, and of course, ASSK has rescinded the boycott. There have been many recent changes in Burma.

You might want to do some reading about the country. Here is a list of books I read before my first trip to Burma: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-bookshelf.cfm
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 09:48 AM
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I had read about Burma's internal airlines being rather dangerous to fly. This accident only confirms it.
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Kathie, with all due respect, I don't think reading something you wrote would be appropriate in this particular case since you've got your sums wrong. Only a fraction of the wealth ever reaches the masses and most of it disappears into the military chest to fund weaponry.

The military has stifled dissent in the past and continues to do so. It's biggest revenue earner is the large scale trafficking of heroin which helps fund the generals.

Developing the tourist industry is one way of attracting investment, but like the revenues derived from the sale of teak and precious stones, little of it filters back to support the local population most of whom are destitute.

By the way, I forgot to respond to what you mentioned about the other airlines operating in the country. Yes, there are those too, but like Air Bagan, they are all owned by the military through holding companies and by relations of one or other of the generals. There is no such thing as private enterprise in the Myanmar in the true sense of the word.
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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Having just spent almost a month in Myanmar/ Burma and following events there fairly closely over the past year or more, this "debate" is curious to read. Right now, it's pretty difficult to make pronouncements about what is really happening in Burma. While there, we met and spent time with quite a few people who have either lived or spent a great deal of time in Burma over the past twenty years and none was ready to say what has brought about the rapidity of change or its extent. I doubt that anyone would argue that the generals stand to profit from opening up the country--nor that they've suddenly become noble beings. On the other hand, the readiness of Burmese at all levels to broach political discussions with foreigner is apparently quite different from years past--as is the lifting of censorship of the media. There's no question that Myanmar has any miles and years to go before it becomes, hopefully, an open society--but the first baby steps seem to have been taken. One never knows, but it would seem more difficult than not to put the genie back in the bottle.

Xircal, it sounds as if you either have spent a great deal of time yourself studying up on Burma's history--or perhaps in years past have travelled there. It'd be interesting to know a bit more about the source of your authority on what is happening now in Burma.
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 01:25 PM
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I think you will find pilot error will be to blame for this incident, some very lucky people.

As for the state of Burmas airline fleet, a little hit and miss. The same can be said for Cambodian Airlines, Laos air very good...

Over time safety will improve as the country needs receives for people from the outside world...
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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Xircal, you misunderstand, I wasn't suggesting that you read something I wrote about travel to Burma and the ethical issues involved, I was suggesting you read what other people have written about it. The link is to a long list of books on Burma. If you want to better underdtand the tensions between traveling vs. not traveling to Burma, I would especially recommend River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U. While this book is already dated (as is anything not written in the last week) I found the perspective both helpful and interesting.

The changes in Burma in the last two years are unbelievable in light of recent history. But as 520 says it doesn't mean that the bad guys have all become good guys, but there are important changes.
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Old Dec 26th, 2012, 05:03 PM
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Politics in this part of the world is full of corruptions and dishonest politician. IMO that's not the reason to not visit a country. Just a few weeks ago there was even a concert by a US singer in Yangon. Head of States from around the world including Obama and his entourage have also visited. Initially the money flowing in will go into the private pockets of politicians but eventually the whole country will benefit. Huge investment are pouring in from the private sectors of Thailand, Singapore and the rest of the world and in a few years time the ASEAN free trade agreement will come into effect. The people of Myanmar will be more prosperous and quality of life is steadily improving today.
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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Changes? That's a funny word sometimes. Burma has an excellent public relations machine and for those of you who just glance at the gloss it produces, everything looks rosy.

You think that by buying some trinket or other from a woman in a market somewhere for a dollar that you're doing her a big favour to help her improve her lot? But what you don't get is that after you leave, along will come one of Tay Za's cronies who'll relieve her of 95 cents of that as a bribe. So effectively, you contributed 95 cents to the junta and only 5 cents to the poor woman you bought the piece of tacky junk from.

As for Obama easing sanctions, the US decision is politically motivated and is intended to offset China's influence in the country, not because of any reforms Thein Sein's fledgeling administration may have put in place. Also, since Parliament is overwhelmingly dominated by the military-backed ruling party, any reforms can be undone when deemed necessary as has already happened.

The more western tourists that visit the country, the more it will become socially acceptable to turn a blind eye to the abuses which influence the daily lives of the masses. This article makes an interesting read if you have time: http://is.gd/1iuaYk
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Old Dec 27th, 2012, 06:59 AM
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I am glad no fodorites where involved in this unfortunate accident and pray for the families of all the victims.

The wiki type information is uninteresting on this type of thread.

I am more interested in why "changes" is a funny word sometimes.

Aloha!
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 09:41 AM
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Why is "changes" a funny word sometimes you ask? It's because it's open to interpretation depending on which side of the fence you happen to be sitting on.

For example, some may view the release of 2000 political prisoners by the current administration as a major step forward while others point out that prisoners of conscience weren't included in the release. The military backed government also continues to persecute opposition leaders.

Yes, there have been major steps forward that wouldn't have been dreamed of even a few years ago, but many of these changes have been enacted with certain goals in mind.

First of all, Burma wants to chair ASEAN in 2014. In point of fact, it needs it to boost its own credentials and to secure international recognition and attract foreign investment. Although China has been a reliable trading partner of Burma, it hasn't invested in the country and only views itself as buyer. Secondly, in order for its economy to thrive, it needs the ASEAN free trade area. Thirdly, the current administration wants to win elections in 2015.

I hope changes for the better do take place in Burma. The masses have suffered enough under 50 years of repression. However, it remains to be seen whether current reforms are real, or whether the military are just taking a back seat while Thein Sein, himself a former army general goes through the motions in order to achieve the junta's aims after which reforms will be reversed and it'll be back to 'business as usual' again.
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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Since we are into repetition here let me repeat my prayers and condolences for the victims and families of this tragic accident.
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