YANGON, 14 July 2015: Myanmar National Airline will face challenges as it begins a bold international expansion starting with flights to Singapore, according to an assessment made by Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation.
MNA plans to launch services on the highly competitive Yangon-Singapore route in August this year as part of an ambitious international expansion plan, but there are few signs that it has the expertise in professional management to pull off the gamble.
The newly rebranded government-owned airline took delivery of the first of 10 737-800s in June and plans to operate five international routes by early 2016 as it grows its fleet.
“But the airline faces huge challenges as it operates outside the domestic market for the first time in two decades,” CAPA said.
inside no 1The Yangon-Singapore market is already experiencing overcapacity and Myanmar-based carriers have struggled to compete against their Singaporean competitors, forcing cutbacks at Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and the withdrawal of Golden Myanmar Airways from the market.
The latter is now codesharing with Tiger Airways.
MNA will inevitably face the same challenges in Singapore as other Burmese carriers, particularly given its brand is an unknown factor in the international market. North Asia, which MNA plans to enter in the coming months, will also be a challenging market for the unknown carrier, the report claimed.
According to MNA, the airline will launch six weekly flights between Yangon and Singapore 17 August. The flight will depart Yangon at 1015 and arrive Singapore at 1430. The return flight will depart Singapore at 1545 and arrive Yangon at 1700. There is no service on Saturday.
The airline is considering flights to Malaysia and Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea in North Asia. But that is on paper. The reality is the airline will be pressed to make a success of its Singapore venture.
Singapore is currently the second largest market after Thailand. There are currently 40 weekly return flights between Singapore and Myanmar, providing about 15,000 weekly seats, according to CAPA and OAG, aviation information and analytical services, data.
All 40 of the flights are on the Singapore-Yangon route except for two SilkAir flights, which operate on a Singapore-Yangon-Mandalay-Singapore routing.
Total capacity between Myanmar and Singapore has increased by about 50% over the last three years, according to CAPA and OAG data. According to Myanmar DCA data, 620,000 passengers travelled between Myanmar and Singapore in 2014, representing growth of 53% compared to 2012.
Myanmar currently only has three international carriers, Myanmar Airways International (MAI), Air Bagan and Golden Myanmar. MAI is entirely an international operator while Air Bagan and Golden Myanmar currently only operate one international route – Yangon to Chiang Mai in Thailand.
MNA initially decided in early 2014, when it was still known as Myanma Airways, to expand into the international market. The airline last operated international services in 1993, when MAI was established as the international flag carrier, leaving MNA to the domestic market.
Source: TTR weekly