Irrawaddy Flotilla Company

   Established in 1865 as a public corporation. By the 1930s, the Scottish-owned Irrawaddy Flotilla Company operated the world's largest fleet of river boats, including 270 steamboats and 380 barges and "flats" on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) and other rivers in British Burma. Its "mail boats" were over 300 feet (100 meters) long and could hold more passengers than the R.M.S Titanic, most of these taking third class accommodation on the deck. Although the steamer captains were British, most of the crew were Chittagongians, from what is now Bangladesh. For a short period of time, the Irrawaddy Flotilla also operated a small airline that flew between Rangoon (Yangon), Mandalay, the oil fields in what is now Magwe Division, Tavoy (Dawei), and Mergui (Myeik). Enjoying privileged access to the colonial government, it operated a virtual monopoly that put many Burmese river boat operators out of business. The glory days of the Flotilla ended with World War II, when the British destroyed most of its boats and barges to prevent their falling into the hands of the Japanese.
   See also Air Transport; Water Transport.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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