Airline Networks and Development in Myanmar (1998-2020)

Authors: John Bowen*, Central Washington University, Thein Htoo, Yadanabon University, Mandalay, Myanmar
Topics: Asia, Transportation Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: Myanmar, air transportation, airport, network, economic development, mobility
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 13
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Since the 1960s, aviation has played a catalytic but not uncontroversial role in economic development across Southeast Asia. Yet through most of that time Myanmar has been overflown by the region's surging air traffic. In more recent years, however, new airlines and airports have been established in the country and new routes have been opened. We evaluate the growth of both domestic and international airline networks in Myanmar since 1998. Our principal data source is the OAG (formerly the Official Airline Guide), a leading source of airline schedule information. We assess comparable OAG data for one month each in early 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2018 and supplement these data with more recent information from a flight-tracking website. We find that, due in part to a less favorable policy environment, Myanmar's air transportation sector has not kept pace with that of other ASEAN countries. The weaker position of Myanmar in global airline networks has been detrimental to economic growth. At the same time, however, the country's limited accessibility probably has had some positive effects from a broader sustainable development perspective. We relate the elaboration of air transport networks in and beyond Myanmar to the broader sociopolitical context, including conflicts along the country's frontiers.

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