Air Bagan unsafe?

Old Oct 11th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Air Bagan unsafe?

We are in the process of replanning our postponed trip to Burma. In looking into internal flight options, a link to the British FCO website came up regarding Air Bagan. From other posts, we had thought Air Bagan to be the safest option in Burma. It seems, however, that the British Foreign Office is recommending against flying on Air Bagan. Their website states (

"Evidence suggests that the domestic airline, Myanmar Airways do not always comply with international safety standards. We also have concerns about Air Bagan's safety standards. On 2 March 2008 a flight operated by Air Bagan, using an aircraft owned by Myanmar Airways (domestic), suffered engine difficulties. On 19 February an Air Bagan aircraft overshot the runway at Putao airport. FCO staff have been advised to avoid flying with Myanmar Airways and Air Bagan if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists.

In August 2008 it was reported that Myanmar Airways International (MAI), an international airline based in Burma (not to be confused with the domestic airline Myanmar Airways), had hired a Fokker 100 aircraft from Air Bagan on a three-month contract (end August end to November) to fly the Rangoon to Bangkok and Rangoon to Kuala Lumpur routes. Due to our concerns about Air Baganís safety standards, FCO staff have been advised to avoid flying on Myanmar Airways International flights using Fokker 100 aircraft."

Has anyone flown Air Bagan (or any of the other carriers flying domestic flights in Burma) in the last year? Comments would be greatly appreciated.

WinterTravel is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2008, 05:58 PM
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My wife and I flew from Rangoon to Bagan to joi n a Pa ndaw cruise about a month ago. At the conclusion of of the cruise (10 days of fabulousness!!) we flew back with Air Bagan from Mandalay to Rangoon via Lake Inle.

The flight was fine. At no stage did we feel even a hint of danger.

Cabin service was pretty average, but what do you want? *lol* Great cabin service before you crash? Or average cabin service before you land safely?

I never even mentioned Air Bagan in my trip report, because it was just like flying domestic in Australia with Qantas or Virgin Blue.

If you don't use Air Bagan or Myanmar Airways what's your plan? Stand at the end of the runway flapping your arms? Hate to tell you, but it won't work!
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 10:37 AM
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Mitch04 - thank you very much for your reply. Your question is apt -- without flying, it seems that a trip is not practical.

The other threads that contain positive references to experiences on Air Bagan seem to be from more than a year ago. We are wondering if the recent safety issues reflect post-Nargis lack of visitors ... perhaps shortcuts being taken due to lack of resources?

Did you meet anyone on your travels in Myanmar who had flown Air Mandalay? A web search seems to indicate they have a better safety record....
WinterTravel is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2008, 12:23 PM
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In addition to Air Mandalay, there is Yangon Airways. All of the airlines seem to operate on pretty much the same schedules. I believe Air Bagan is the newest - sorry to hear that it may no longer be "safe".
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Old Oct 13th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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In case anyone else has been thinking about flying in Myanmar, I thought I should note that online info indicates that the domestic airlines may be in tough times at the moment. In reading the postings on Loney Planet and other sites, it appears that domestic flight schedules are severely reduced and people with airline reservations have ended up having to take overnight buses to get to their destinations. This is second-hand info from other boards -- would be grateful for any comments from Fodorites who've been recently. Mitch04 - how many people were on your flights (and were they all pre-booked via Pandaw?)?
WinterTravel is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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I flew from Rangoon to Bagan, and apart from my wife and I there were only two other Europeans on board (Pandaw clients like we were). The plane was full.

10 days later we flew from Mandalay via Lake Inle back to Rangoon. There were 20 Europeans on board (again, all Pandaw passengers). Afain, the flight was full. The aircraft was, if I recall correctly, a twin jet Fokker. It was very comfortable, and a pleasant flight.

There are hardly any tourists in Burma. Apart from those we saw at the hotels where we stayed, we saw no others, even in Rangoon.

The Burmese desperately need tourists.

Worry too much about airlines and their safety records, and you'll never go anywhere....

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Old Oct 14th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts. We've flown airlines with questionable safety records on previous trips (India, Africa and elsewhere) -- just a risk one decides to take if the trip is worth it. Safety aside, an issue seems to be whether or not flights actually go now that there are few tourists and the airlines have issues due to sanctions, etc... Sounds like Pandaw has pull (given that most passengers on plane were their clients) but that independent folks are often stuck. We'd really like to go, so we're going to keep looking into the options.

Did Pandaw arrange all of your hotels, or were you able to find special rates by corresponding directly?

Thanks again!
WinterTravel is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2008, 12:16 AM
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The Pandaw cruise ( peovides two night's acommodation as part of its pricing structure: one night before the cruise, and one night at the end.

We arrived one day early, so paid f the first night following by the second night paid for by the Pandaw, and then had one more night at the end of the cruise. The Pandaw uses the Chatrium hotel in Rangoon.

After our final night at the Chatrium we moved to the Savoy ($75 per night inc breakfast) but we booked that through the Pandaw also.

Most of the European passengers on the flights where pandaw passengers...but we represented about 1/5th of the passengers in total. The others were Asian.
Mitch04 is offline  
Old Oct 17th, 2008, 10:49 AM
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Many thanks for the helpful info!
WinterTravel is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2008, 07:41 PM
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Safe yes.
Insured , possibly no.
jege41 is offline  
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