Executive Traveller exclusive
Malaysia Airlines is boldly betting on a solid return to international flying by the end of 2021, with plans to significantly ramp up its long-distance flight network to destinations in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
With just 2-3 return flights a week to Australia at present, that’s set to climb to 39 weekly return flights serving Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth by late December.
Malaysia Airlines also plans a New Zealand return from late March, with flights then gradually increasing throughout the year.
Finally, London will ramp up from one flight a week to one flight a day by mid-year, with connections possible from Australia and New Zealand via Kuala Lumpur.
Although schedules are always subject to change – and may be impacted if travel and movement restrictions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom remain in force – here’s what Malaysia Airlines currently has planned for 2021.
Sydney-Kuala Lumpur flights
Right now, Malaysia Airlines is serving Sydney just once per week.
That remains the plan until August, when that’s further tripled to six return flights per week – climbing to daily flights from September, 10 return flights each week from November, and then 13 return flights a week from December, continuing into 2022.
All Sydney flights are currently scheduled with the airline’s Airbus A330-300s, offering Malaysia Airlines’ familiar flatbed seating in business class:
Melbourne-Kuala Lumpur flights
Services between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur are currently running once per week, which Malaysia Airlines expects to increase from March: growing to two return flights per week.
Beyond, the climb continues slowly but steadily as the months pass.
From April, Melbourne will see three weekly return flights – climbing to five from May, and daily from July.
Fast-forward to August, and Malaysia Airlines is planning (and selling) 10 weekly return flights between the two cities, growing further to 12 return services each week from September, and double-daily flying from December.
As with Sydney, Melbourne will be served by the Airbus A330-300.
Adelaide-Kuala Lumpur flights
Beyond Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide also continues to host Malaysia Airlines flights, with one return service per fortnight at present.
However, as flights to other Australian cities increase from March, that will find all Adelaide-Kuala Lumpur services paused – set to return later in the year, with four weekly return flights from October 31.
From December, that’s boosted to five return flights per week: all again served by Airbus A330-300s.
Between March and late October, Adelaide travellers needing to venture to Kuala Lumpur or beyond can connect via another Australian city, flying Qantas – a Oneworld partner of Malaysia Airlines – on the domestic leg as part of the same itinerary.
Perth-Kuala Lumpur flights
Perth is set to return to Malaysia Airlines’ route map in June, with the resumption of two return flights a week to Kuala Lumpur.
Operated by Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 jets, business class passengers will find domestic-style reclining seats aboard these single-aisle planes as opposed to the A330’s flatbeds – although with a flight time comparable to Perth-Brisbane, the journey may feel more like a domestic flight.
Current plans show these flights doubling to four weekly return services from August and five weekly return flights from September, all using the Boeing 737.
Come December, the Boeing 737 continues to fly five times a week, but with the addition of two weekly return Airbus A330 flights.
Passengers will find comfort in the A330’s far superior business class, particularly on the overnight legs it will operate from Perth to Kuala Lumpur, albeit the ex-Airberlin A330-200, as will also fly to Auckland, below.
Brisbane-Kuala Lumpur flights
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysia Airlines had been serving Brisbane regularly, with non-stop Airbus A330 flights to its Kuala Lumpur hub.
These services were paused from October 2020 as international travel restrictions – including the requirement to gain government permission to leave Australia – continued to send demand downward.
Schedules show that Brisbane is not currently expected to return to Malaysia Airlines’ network in 2021.
The airline has previously advised Executive Traveller that Brisbane faces a “temporary suspension”, but it remains unknown when the Sunshine State capital will make its return.
Auckland-Kuala Lumpur flights
Across the ditch, New Zealand is currently expected to return to Malaysia Airlines’ network from late March.
Beginning at two return flights per week from Kuala Lumpur, that’s set to climb to four weekly returns from July, then five weekly returns from August, and six weekly return flights from early December.
By the end of December 2021, Malaysia Airlines will once again offer a daily return flight.
Unlike the Airbus A330-300s normally seen flying to Australia’s east coast, Auckland will get Malaysia Airlines’ A330-200s instead.
These aircraft were inherited from the now-defunct Airberlin and offer a different business class experience, with Malaysia Airlines continuing to fly the ex-Airberlin seats, albeit now tweaked with Malaysia Airlines’ logo and branding.
Auckland had been seeing these jets prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as had Perth on selected flights.
Kuala Lumpur-London flights
Passengers have long been able to make a one-stop journey between Australia and London via Kuala Lumpur – the Malaysia Airlines version of the Kangaroo Route – and that will continue once international travel restrictions ease.
With one return flight per week between KL and London, that’s doubled come February, with three weekly returns from March.
In May, that grows further to five return flights per week, before landing at a daily return service from July.
These flights will all be served using Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 aircraft, fitted with the same business class seating as on the airline’s A330-300s, but with the addition of four distinct ‘Business Suites’.
Situated at the very front of the cabin, these pods were formerly sold as first class, but were rebranded to better-align with company travel policies that often prohibited first class travel.
These Business Suites offer added privacy in the air thanks to a closing door, upgraded lounge access in Kuala Lumpur, and inflight service more akin to first class standards.
As with all route schedules, changes always remain possible, although all flights listed above are now available for sale.