Myanma Airways takes new name, plans international flights

State-owned carrier Myanma Airways will re-christen as Myanmar National Airways as it looks to once again take to international skies, officials said on December 10.

The airline has also embarked on a corporatisation process that will see it operate at arms’-length from the Union government and Ministry of Transport, and has been updating services such as introducing a website allowing online bookings.

State ownership will continue at the airline, though it will be operated separately from the government, said Myanmar National Airlines managing director Captain U Than Tun in prepared remarks at the unveiling on December 10.

“This enables us to set up the airline in a very different way than in the past with our own board of directors,” he said.

The initiative could cost the government $500 million over 7 to 8 years, said Cronan Enright, principal consultant at MNA partner Avia Solutions.

“The corporatisation … is to make [MNA] a semi-state company that can really forge ahead independently – still government-owned, but with the ability to make its own decisions,” Mr Enright said.

The makeover means not just a fresh face for the company but new planes and plans. Myanmar National Airlines will boost its fleet tally from 10 to 26 aircraft with the arrival of 10 Boeing 737 aircraft and 6 ATR72-600 aircraft starting mid-2015.

Beginning “early” next year the airline will also resume flying internationally for the first time in more than two decades.

In February the firm inked a deal with General Electric’s aviation consultancy to assist it with modernising.

Myanma Airways had flown outside of Myanmar until 1993, when it participated in setting up Myanmar Airways International. The new airline then began international flights, while Myanma Airways focused on the domestic market.

The airline traces its routes to 1948, when it opened as the Union of Burma Airways. It later changed its named to Burma Airways Corporation and then to Myanma Airways in 1989.

The firm will also update its offices on Strand Road near the British Embassy, turning its 150-year-old office building into a “Travel Centre”.

Captain U Than Tun said the now-renamed Myanmar National Airways will debut a new domestic flight schedule on December 15.

The airline has also taken pains to modernise its customer operations, from ticket buying to taking off. U Than Tun said the airline will implement a “fully computerised reservations and booking system and, at the airport, a fully mechanized check-in and boarding process”. Its website – where customers can purchase and pick out seats on planes – has also gone live.

The company said its check-in system would roll out from Yangon to Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Nyaung U “over the next few weeks”.


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