Pandemic causes Pandaw to powerdown for good

Asian luxury small-ship operator ceases operation

RV Angkor Pandaw

Asian luxury small-ship operator Pandaw has ceased its river cruise operations citing the continuing impact of COVID-19.

Pandaw had been in operation for over 25 years, with a fleet of 17 ships in six countries. The fleet was comprised of K-Class and P-Class ships, operating on the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Halong Bay, the Red River, Chindwin River, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Tonle.

However the closure to tourism for destinations including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and India, coupled with the political situation in Myanmar, left Pandaw with “no alternative but to cease its river cruise operations due to the lack of financial liquidity and failure to find additional funding in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis,” the company said.

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“Though forward bookings for a restart in 2022 remained strong, with great support from the ever-loyal Pandaw community, the company lacks the funding to continue layup operations of their seventeen ships for another year, and then undergo essential refurbishment to prepare for renewed operations, the timing of which is highly uncertain, even assuming this may occur for the winter 2022/23 season,” said Pandaw Founder Paul Strachan.

Just a few weeks ago, Strachan said in a company update that “things are certainly looking up but many of our passengers are being cautious about rebooking as airlines have lagged behind in updating schedules.”

Pandaw said it has “worked tirelessly over the past year to find new investors or other forms of finance to carry the company through, but without success.”

Up until the impact of COVID-19, Pandaw had operated successfully with high occupancy rates and year-on-year growing revenues and positive financial results.

“This is a very sad moment for me, my family, our crews and clients,” Strachan said.

“It marks the end of an era for all of us after twenty-five years of real adventure. We are truly sorry to disappoint our regular passengers who were so looking forward to making a trip after the lifting of travel restrictions. We are also heartbroken for our three hundred plus crew members and shoreside personnel who have stood by Pandaw and were hoping to get going again next year”.

Pandaw Cruises’ charity, the Pandaw Charity, will continue its work under the guidance of its trustees.

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