RANGOON — Burma’s national flag carrier Myanma Airways has inked a deal with General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) to lease 10 commercial aircraft, and has enlisted GECAS’s AviaSolutions consulting arm to create and implement a strategic growth plan for the airline.
The subsidiary of the US conglomerate General Electric signed a contract with Myanmar Airways to lease 10 new Boeing narrow-body aircraft, with deliveries of the planes scheduled to begin in June 2015, Myanma Airway announced on Tuesday. The US$960 million contract calls for six Boeing 737-800 models and four Boeing 737-8 MAXs, with deliveries to be made through 2020.
A signing ceremony was held at the Singapore Airshow 2014 in the Southeast Asian city-state on Tuesday, with Burma’s Transport Minister Nyan Tun Aung, Myanma Airways Managing Director Than Tun and officials from GE in attendance, Myanma Airways said. Derek Mitchell, the US ambassador to Burma, was also on hand to witness the deal.
Than Tun said at the signing ceremony that Myanma Airways was delighted to work with GECAS to develop and upgrade the carrier’s fleet and expand routes into key markets in the region.
“Our collaboration with a leading multinational US company like GE will benefit the airline and the Myanmar economy,” Than Tun said.
GECAS already leases two Embraer E190 aircraft to the state-owned airline.
“We’re pleased at GE to work with Myanma Airways to provide new, state-of-the-art Boeing aircraft,” said Norman Liu, president and CEO of GECAS.
GECAS, the commercial aircraft leasing and financing arm of General Electric, has a fleet of over 1,670 owned and serviced aircraft, contracted to more than 230 customers worldwide. In Tuesday’s announcement, GE said its AviaSolutions would work with the airline’s senior management on plans that include international expansion using the airline’s newly leased Boeing jets to serve the business and tourism sectors.
Myanma Airways was established in 1948, then called the Union of Burma Airways. The state airline’s current incarnation serves all major domestic destinations from its main base at Rangoon International Airport, but does not offer international routes.
“We are delighted to be supporting the national airline, Myanma Airways, in this period of growth for both the country and the airline. It is an exciting project and one that will leverage our airport and airline expertise,” said John Carter, managing director of AviaSolutions, in a statement on Tuesday.
The state airline has not been immune to the aviation accidents that have blighted the domestic industry’s reputation over the years. In 2012, two separate landing mishaps in the space of a month involving Myanma Airways MA60 turbo-prop planes led the carrier to ground its fleet of the Chinese-made planes. The 2009 crash-landing of a Myanma Airways flight in the Arakan State capital of Sittwe injured two passengers, and in 1998, two crashes in the same year killed a combined 50 people.
In 2008, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued an advisory warning its staff to avoid flying Myanma Airways, citing the airline’s failure to meet international safety standards.
Myanma Airways currently relies primarily on French/Italian-made ATRs for its commercial flight services.