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Myanmar National Airlines confronts challenges to ambitious international expansion plan

Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) is planning further expansion of its international operation in 2017 as it gradually takes delivery of more 737-800s. MNA launched international services in Aug-2015 after taking delivery of the first of 10 737s, but fleet and network expansion have been slower than initially planned.

MNA's initial international routes have also struggled, resulting in an average international load factor of less than 50%. MNA’s performance has been improving, particularly on the Singapore route, but the government owned flag carrier still has to overcome huge obstacles if it is to become profitable.

Competition in Myanmar’s international market is extremely fierce, including on all five international routes that MNA now operates. MNA captured only a 4.5% share of Myanmar’s international market in 2016 while its local rival, privately owned Myanmar Airways International (MAI), captured only a 7.5% share. Foreign airlines have a competitive advantage, making it nearly impossible for MNA or MAI to find profitable new international routes.

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