Japan’s largest carrier ANA feels third time lucky as it attempts Myanmar entry

All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) aircraft stand parked at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

ANA Holdings Inc. is attempting to set up a venture in Myanmar for the third time after previous efforts collapsed, as Japan’s largest carrier seeks to capture demand in one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.

“We’re going to find a new partner again,”  Shinya Katanozaka, chief executive officer of ANA Holdings, said in an interview in Tokyo Thursday. “Even though this is going to be our third attempt, we didn’t even think about giving up on the plan.”

ANA is betting on a surge in international travel from the Southeast Asian country as economic growth picks up pace. Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation imposed by its military dictatorship, with companies from the U.S. to Europe and China lining up to invest.

“Like Japan in the past, Myanmar’s middle class will grow rich and start to enjoy overseas travels,” Katanozaka said.

In 2014, ANA Holdings cited intense competition for deciding to  cancel a plan to buy 49 percent of Asian Wings Airways Ltd., a local airline. Last year, it invested in a new venture with local investor Golden Sky World, but had to scrap the project last month after its license application stalled.

The airline operator plans to kick off the new venture in Myanmar during its new five-year plan, which will be announced in February, according to Katanozaka.

ANA last month became the only official airline sponsor of the Myanmar national football team.

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