Myanmar's private carrier Air KBZ plans to start a flight from Mandalay to Imphal in Manipur. Mandalay was the capital of erstwhile Burmese kingdom. India's Ambassador to Myanmar Saurabh Kumar said Air KBZ is keen to operate flights between Mandalay and Imphal. To start the flight service, Kumar said the Air Services Agreement (ASA) has to be changed since Imphal is not among the points of call under the current agreement. Bilateral ASAs provide for carriers from the respective countries to operate flights to specified places in each other's territory.
"Air KBZ is very keen and they want to operate twice a week service from Mandalay to Imphal," he said. Kumar was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the launch of IndiGo's services on Kolkata-Yangon route on September 20. A private carrier, Air KBZ was founded in 2010. It connects 15 major destinations across Myanmar, as per its website. Currently, only two Indian carriers, Air India and IndiGo, fly to Myanmar. There are estimated to be around two million people of India-origin in Myanmar, which was earlier known as Burma.
Regarding bilateral trade, Kumar said the effort is to diversify the trade basket, which is currently dominated by agricultural products. "We would like to see more engineering goods coming (from India to Myanmar)... We are also a major exporter of pharmaceuticals into Myanmar. Figures vary but 30-40 per cent of their pharmaceutical imports are from India," he noted. The bilateral trade between India and Myanmar is estimated to be worth 1.5 billion US Dollars.