Malaysia Airlines plans to be a more active member of the Oneworld alliance, says CEO Peter Bellew while also launching "a complete reboot" of its Enrich frequent flyer scheme.
The Malaysian flag-carrier joined Oneworld in early 2013 under the sponsorship of Qantas.
“But I think we did very little with Oneworld,” Bellew tells Australian Business Traveller, adding that the airline sometimes dropped the ball by not being “a very active” partner.
“There were some mistakes made in the past, we’ve had to make a few apologies, eat a bit of humble pie and admit we were the weakest link in the chain.”
“But I think there’s a great opportunity for Malaysia Airlines within the Oneworld alliance and there’s plenty of business to be done there.”
“We have a lot to offer the other carriers because we do fly to some relatively obscure places, and offer great connections at good value and a lovely product.”
Bellew says that Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney – a 25-year veteran of Qantas, British Airways and Emirates – “is kicking my butt to get me properly aligned with what’s happening, and he’s been very supportive to what we’re doing.”
The airline’s frequent flyer scheme is also subject of what Bellew describes to Australian Business Traveller as “a complete reboot.”
“I think the Enrich program has immense potential. In Malaysia, which is our core market, it’s the most recognised loyalty brand but we’ve done very, very little with it over the years… there’s been a lack of resources put on it, and maybe because of everything else that’s going on.”
“We haven’t been treating (Enrich) like a business,” Bellew reflects. “It’s been a little bit of an interesting sideshow, whereas it should have been core part of the business, so we’re going to invest in people and systems and the backend in the next 12 months.”
A cornerstone of this is the recent appointment of Australian Mark Ross-Smith – a loyalty consultant and champion of ‘big data’ – to head the Loyalty & Enrich portfolio.
“I think this time next year you’ll see a vastly different business” Bellew speculates. “Of all the things in the company, Enrich has got the most potential to be a very significant part of the business over the years.”
Bellew promises “the overall program will become much more attractive” as well as more competitive against competitors such as Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer.
This might also see an increase in the number of Qantas Points earned on Malaysia Airlines flights.
“We haven’t started discussions like that with Qantas, it’s a little bit further down the road,” Bellew says.