Myanmar National to seek foreign funds for fleet upgrade

Myanmar National Airlines (UB, Yangon) will seek foreign investors to finance the upgrade of the carrier’s international fleet and it has also approached the Myanma Port Authority in this regard, Director U Myint Aung has told The Myanmar Times.

The Myanmarese flag carrier has been unprofitable since its corporatisation in 2013 but hopes to post its first profit in 2019. In order to achieve that, the carrier needs to boost its load factors on international flights, which currently hover at 40-50%. The upgrade of the fleet may contribute towards that goal, U Myint Aung hopes.

The carrier is expecting to take a total of six B737 MAX 8s between 2019 and 2021, although it is unclear whether the upgrade would be limited to these aircraft or if MNA is looking at more jets.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, MNA’s narrowbody fleet currently consists of four B737-800s. The carrier also operates two EMB-190LRs, six ATR 72-600s, one ATR72-200, one ATR72-500 and four Cessna (single turboprop) 208 Caravans.

MNA is also trying to diversify revenue streams and is investing in ground handling capabilities. It has also built the country’s only Avions de Transport Régional maintenance centre which, despite being completed for the last three years, is yet to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

“Once the Europeans issue us with a certificate of recognition, we would be the only maintenance service centre for ATR aircraft in Myanmar,” U Myint Aung has said.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, there are currently thirty-two active ATR turboprops in Myanmar in total operated by seven civilian airlines and the Myanmar Air Force.

The carrier’s plans come in the context of tough market conditions for Myanmarese airlines, caused by overcapacity, market fragmentation, and high fuel and maintenance costs. As a result, most carriers are currently racking up losses, particularly during the low tourism season.

Recently, APEX Airlines (SO, Yangon) has had its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) revoked by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) due to dormancy. The carrier’s sole aircraft, ATR 72-600 XY-AJV (msn 1229), has been stored at Singapore Seletar since October 2017, Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows. Air Bagan terminated all own commercial services in 2016, while Air Mandalay resumed flights at the end of 2017 following a gap caused by the grounding of its sole active aircraft.

Source: ch-aviation

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