Flag carrier returns to foreign skies with Singapore service

YANGON — National flag-carrier Myanmar National Airlines made its first international flight in 22 years on August 17 with the launch of a service to Singapore, media reports said.

Singapore is the first of five Asia-Pacific destinations to which MNA plans to fly, including services to Taipei and Hong Kong due to begin in December, reports said.

Singapore was the “obvious” choice for the first international destination, MNA chief executive Captain Than Tun was quoted as saying by the city-state’s Today newspaper on August 18.

MNA is the sixth carrier to fly between Yangon and Singapore and aviation analysts say the route is experiencing overcapacity, Today reported.

“MNA will inevitably face the same challenges in Singapore as other Myanmar carriers, particularly given that its brand is an unknown in the international market,” Brendan Sobie, an analyst at aviation consultancy CAPA Singapore told Today.

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MNA will use a Boeing 737-800 for the Singapore service, which will fly daily except Saturday.

The plane, delivered in June, is the first of six 737-800s and 737-Max 8s ordered by the airline.

The multi-million dollar deal was aimed at re-invigorating the carrier’s brand and signalling “the re-emergence of Myanmar as a competitive member of the global aviation market,” MNA said in a June 15 statement.

The statement said that MNA, originally known as Union of Burma Airways and then as Myanma Airways, had made history six months earlier by becoming the first government operation to corporatise.

MNA flies to 26 domestic destinations, more than any other carrier.

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