SINGAPORE - Myanmar's national carrier on Tuesday signed a contract with US firm GE Capital to lease 10 Boeing aircraft worth nearly a billion dollars in a major makeover for the largely domestic airline.
US ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell described the agreement as the "largest commercial sale" by a US company to Myanmar in decades.
Under the agreement, state-owned Myanma Airways will lease 10 new Boeing 737 planes from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), the commercial leasing and financing arm of US giant General Electric.
Delivery of the planes is scheduled to begin in June 2015.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, Asia's biggest aerospace and defence show which began Tuesday.
"The contract calls for six Boeing 737-800 models and four Boeing 737-MAX models. The aircraft will deliver through 2020," GECAS said in a statement.
The planes are valued at $960 million at list prices.
It will be a major makeover for flag carrier Myanma Air, which was established in 1948 and currently operates mostly domestic services using Fokker F28 jets and ATR turboprops.
For flights to smaller domestic airports, Myanma Airways uses Beechcraft and Cessna planes.
"We are pleased at GE to work with Myanma Airways to provide new, state-of-the-art Boeing aircraft," Norman Liu, president and chief executive of GECAS, said in a statement.
"This is an important milestone for the airline and and for the development of Myanmar's aviation industry."
Myanmar Transportation Minister Nyan Htun Aung said the new Boeing planes would be used to expand the carrier's routes to East Japan and South Korea.
The carrier's sole international destination currently is Gaya in India, which is important for Buddhist pilgrims.