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Malaysia Airlines intends to restart flights between Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur, as well as launch a double daily service to Perth – but it’s more a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, CEO Peter Bellew tells Australian Business Traveller.
The ‘when’ is, however, tied to the Oneworld member airline expanding its fleet, a process which isn’t expected to happen until sometime in 2018.
“I think Brisbane would do very well for us,” Bellew predicts, and not just for taking passengers to Kuala Lumpur or London.
“With our network we could offer some very seamless connections, particularly to relatively obscure places in China, where I don’t see them ever getting connected point-to-point.”
The Oneworld member and de facto Qantas partner axed its Brisbane flights in August 2015 as part of a wide-ranging series of cuts to its Australian schedule in an effort to slash costs.
However, Bellew explains, “we don’t have the aircraft yet to re-open that route… what I’m trying to do is to put extra wide-bodies in place for the second half of next year, and 2019, and that’ll give us the capacity then that we can operate through to Brisbane, because we need a wide-body aircraft to get down there – the narrow-bodies won’t make it.”
Those wide-body or twin-aisle jets could come from either Airbus or Boeing, Bellew says, and could be fresh from the factory or leased from another airline.
Changes for Perth
For its part, Perth will see twice-daily Boeing 737 flights and “we will have the Boeing 737s available next year to be able to do that,” Bellew forecasts.
However, mindful of the number of travellers heading through KL to London, Bellew is keen to avoid clashing with Qantas’ non-stop Perth-London Boeing 787 service.
“We recognise that Qantas’ direct flight is going to have an impact on us, so we will reschedule our flights to avoid Qantas and try and generate different traffic flows out of Perth so (that) Qantas is not going to whack us,” the refreshingly candid Bellew admits.
No A380s for Sydney, Melbourne
Malaysia Airlines has spiked plans to bring its Airbus A380 superjumbo to Sydney and Melbourne for the peak December-January travel season.
“We had a look at it but the figures don’t add up, and there’s a lot of logistical challenges in doing that,” Bellew explains.
“The two airports are very busy at the moment and there’s not unlimited A380 handling availability in Sydney or Melbourne, so we’re not planning on doing that (now).”