Singapore Airlines (SIA) said Wednesday it will start a daily service to Yangon in October to meet growing business and tourist demand for flights to Myanmar’s largest city.

The announcement by one of the world’s top airlines comes amid growing international interest in once-isolated Myanmar, which launched political reforms after ending nearly half a century of military rule last year.

Singapore Airlines to fly daily to Yangon
Shwedagon Paya Temple shining at night in Yangon, Myanmar

“Demand has been growing strongly for both business and leisure travel to Myanmar, and Singapore Airlines looks forward to serving the country for the first time,” SIA executive vice president Mak Swee Wah said in a statement.

SIA will take over seven of the 16 flights run every week by its regional wing SilkAir from October 28, using 323-seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft to boost the group’s weekly seat capacity to Yangon by 55 per cent. SilkAir uses smaller Airbus A320 planes.

“SIA and SilkAir are constantly looking at new market opportunities and the launch of SIA services enables us to quickly meet the growing demand for travel to this increasingly popular destination,” Mak added.

Yangon, the former capital, is the country’s biggest city and remains its commercial hub despite the transfer of the seat of power to the remote administrative centre Naypyidaw in 2005.

Myanmar has surprised the international community by freeing political prisoners and launching a series of reforms that have convinced leading Western nations to start rolling back sanctions.