Myanmar’s national carrier is flying international for the first time in 22 years, with Singapore its destination reported Channel News Asia on 16 June.
The Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) flight takes to the skies in August and will likely be followed by flights to other foreign cities like Hong Kong and Taipei.
With a brand new Boeing 737 the latest addition to the airline’s fleet of 10, along with five others still on order, the national carrier is hoping to expand internationally.
Despite a 22-year hiatus, MNA does not see well-established regional carriers at its main competition.
“We are not competing with the other airlines, we are the competition ourselves,” said Captain Than Tun, Myanmar National Airlines CEO. “Foreign tourist traffic to Myanmar is up by around 20 per cent. Next year, more are expected. We have to peg our strategy to that.”
Three million people visited Myanmar in 2014, and it expects to welcome five million tourists in 2015. With such positive growth rates, observers say MNA has the right components to go international.
With an improved computerised reservations system, MNA is showing that it is serious about being an international player in the regional aviation market. Aviation analysts say there is no reason why the airline will not be successful if it continues to upgrade as well as maintain international standards.
“They’re taking delivery of state-of-the-art airplanes - 737-800s and the new 737-Max which is absolutely the newest airplane in the market when it comes out in 2017, so they will have everything in place then,” said aviation analyst Andrew Stephen.
“They’ve got a possibility of building up a good route network from Yangon to Singapore to Hong Kong to Korea and Japan, so all of the ingredients are there. If they do it correctly, then everything should be successful.”
But MNA will face headwinds. Competition is stiff with regional players, ranging from budget airlines to national carriers, being more established and experienced.
Building its brand and keeping its costs low will be vital to the airline’s success but experts say MNA will have some extra wind beneath its wings. As a flagship carrier, the government will make sure the airline continues to soar.