Air Bagan is a Burmese airline that is currently working to expand its international market in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. This airline is supposedly privately owned but is widely suspected of being a joint venture between one Tay Za, president of Air Bagan and one of Burma’s wealthiest business tycoons, and Burmese Senior General Than Shwe’s family.

In 2010, the company opened an office in Chiang Mai and has been heavily promoting its direct flight service from Chiang Mai to Rangoon, Burma. Air Bagan also has plans to begin flight service between Burma, Bangkok and Phuket.

In October 2010, a peaceful protest primarily involving non-Asia residents took place outside the Air Bagan airline company office in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This demonstration was aimed toward encouraging people to not support this company, which has apparent ties with Burma’s military regime, and it’s state-sponsored tourism industry. The demonstration was also for sewing the seeds of awareness related to how Burma’s military regime uses money from tourism to fund its economic and political initiatives, while suppressing the country’s general population.

World citizens and visitors to Thailand and Burma should be more informed about how Air Bagan operates, where tourism dollars really go – who benefits and who suffers.

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