Starting January 4, 2023, all flights to and from Loikaw Airport were suspended, according to local people.
Only Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) and Air KBZ airlines normally serve Loikaw. Their flights were canceled on January 4 for security reasons after the Karenni Nationalities Defense Forces (KNDF) bombed the airport and adjacent military base with drones on January 3. Flights are only scheduled to resume after January 9, when drone-jamming hardware is installed at the airport.
Air KBZ will fly on Wednesdays and Fridays each week. There is usually a MNA shuttle flight on Sundays.
“The airfield was bombed by drone. And I heard that they also shot a guard nearby, and because of this, there were police inspections and some people were arrested,” said a Loikaw resident.
According to city residents, there have been strict inspections of people moving within the town since the New Year, and there have been many arrests. It is not yet known why the military council has tightened control, but some residents believe that it may have to do with the junta’s Karenni State Day ceremony on January 15th, which could attract attacks by resistance forces.
On September 30, 2022, a MNA plane flying from Yangon to Loikaw was struck by a projectile shot by the KNDF, piercing the fuselage but causing no danger; Air KBZ continued to operate.
In addition, on December 11th, a bomb exploded near Loikaw Airfield, according to local sources.