Burma’s State-Owned Airline to Service Singapore

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 16 June 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s state-owned flag carrier announced on Monday that it will offer direct flights from Rangoon to Singapore beginning in August.

Four other cities in the Asia Pacific region will join Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) international network in early 2016, the company said in a press statement.

Coinciding with this week’s induction of one of 10 new aircraft into its fleet, MNA said the new planes will link the company’s 26 domestic destinations with an expanding international network.

“With these beautiful, leading-edge aircraft we will create a premier airline that is the undisputed leader in the country, the rival of others in the region and that shares the spirit of Myanmar with the world,” MNA CEO Than Tun said in the statement.

Last year the company secured six Boeing 737-800s and four 737 Max aircraft in a US$960 million deal with GE Civil Aviation Services, the largest commercial deal between the United States and Burma in decades.

MNA, formerly called Myanma Airways, was incorporated in 2014 as Burma’s sole flag carrier and was authorized to operate both domestic and international routes. The airline currently has the largest domestic network in Burma.

The new international route will bring MNA into competition with two other local carriers serving Singapore. Myanmar Airways International (MAI), owned by KBZ Chairman Aung Ko Win, offers seven international destinations including Singapore. Golden Myanmar Airlines, owned by CB Bank Chairman Khin Maung Aye, serves Singapore and Thailand.

Aye Mra Tha, a senior executive at MAI, told The Irrawaddy that the airline will focus on safety and service to keep up in the market as it becomes more saturated.

“We’re now competing with other regional airlines, so the challenges are already there,” she said, adding that as passengers become increasingly concerned with air travel safety, an airline’s track record “will decide the market from now on.”

Myanmar National Airlines was founded under the name of Union of Burma Airways in 1948. Initially offering only domestic routes, it later expanded to service Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand and Singapore, but those routes were suspended in the early 1990s.