Malaysia Airlines expects that its Australian flights will not only remain under the government’s recovery plan but will be earmarked for future growth, while new destinations will also be targetted.
The ‘Kangaroo Route’ from Australia to London and Paris via Kuala Lumpur will also continue to be a solid earner for the airline.
A senior MAS executive told Australian Business Traveller that the airline would maintain its current schedule until at least the middle of next year, when the new parent company of the nationalised airline would begin operating.
“Right now it’s status quo, there will not be any consideration of cuts, but I’m very sure that overall network size will not change significantly” Mr PK Lee, Regional Senior Vice President of Malaysia Airlines, told Australian Business Traveller in Kuala Lumpur.
“The contribution from Australia and New Zealand to the UK and European long-haul market is very important to MAS, and we need that Kangaroo Route to continue to grow.”
Australia is the airline’s largest market outside of Malaysia and while MAS has added larger aircraft and more regular services to Australia, Lee says there is still room for further expansion.
“There are opportunities where we can develop more of the business travel market, whether that is in business class or economy, to give us a better balance in terms of higher average fare and higher revenue per passenger.”
“Australia is a very important contributor to our network. We have added 34% capacity into this market this year and we are winning more business, so I don’t see a reason why we cannot continue to grow.”
Lee says that the forthcoming review of the MAS network will also encompass “new markets and new opportunities” beyond the current route map.
“We are on a constant search for opportunities – if there is reason for us to grow, we definitely will.”
PREVIOUS | Malaysia Airlines will consider cutting some international and regional routes and closing some of its airport lounges as the struggling airline works to ‘right-size’ itself.
However, the airline – which is expected to be fully nationalised by December 31st as it embarks on an ambitious five year turnaround plan – says that some of the more profitable international routes could also be expanded.
State-owned Khazanah Nasional, which will likely become MAS’ sole owner by year’s end, has said it will “rationalise the network to be principally regionally-focused, with strong global connectivity through MAS’ oneworld alliance and other code-share partners.”
While this would not mean widespread demolition of Malaysia Airlines’ international network, a senior MAS executive says that “dropping routes is certain”.
“We will continue to be a premium carrier with a strong focus on regional (flights) but also on selected long-haul destinations that are doing well commercially” Mr PK Lee, Regional Senior Vice President of Malaysia Airlines, told Australian Business Traveller in Kuala Lumpur.
Lee added that routes closer to home would also come under the bean-counter’s gaze.
“It’s not just long haul – we will review the performance of every route, even short haul.”
At the same time, Lee suggested that “a route which is performing well could be expanded with more flights or more seats.”
Some lounges may close
The airline’s membership of the Oneworld alliance will also come into play in the ‘new’ Malaysia Airlines, potentially resulting in the closure of many MAS airport lounges outside of Malaysia.
Sydney’s MAS Golden Lounge was shuttered in March this year, with passengers directed to the first class and business class lounges of Oneworld partner Qantas.
While Malaysia Airline pays Qantas a ‘lounge access’ fee for each passenger, this is still cheaper than running a dedicated lounge to support its own flights.
“It’s only logical that we do not duplicate the cost structure where we have Oneworld partners operating lounges” Lee suggested.
“I believe that these are some of things we need to consider for international out-station lounges to optimise our whole structure."
David Flynn travelled to Kuala Lumpur as a guest of Malaysia Airlines.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT