Malaysia Airlines’ mainland flights to expand rapidly
Malaysia Airlines, after being re-nationalized and restructured, decided to carry out a rapid expansion into the Chinese market with a brand new look. Eyeing the immense consumption power of Chinese tourists, Malaysia Airlines will add eight new destinations in the mainland, with 11 new routes and 35 additional flights between Malaysia and China, beginning in early 2017.
The new destinations include Haikou, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Tianjin and Shenzhen. The airline will also add a second daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, subject to the availability of slots, in April 2017. This follows the airline’s recent announcement on its service upgrade on its morning Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong flights from the Boeing 737 to the Airbus 330.
Along with the new routes, Malaysia Airlines also vows to be competitive in price, while upgrading service, such as providing better on-board services and a more convenient lounge.
“Concerning the capacity we put in the mainland next year, total sales may increase 30 to 50 percent in 2017, while the overall sales will reach double digit growth next year compared to 2016,” said Arved Von Zur Mehlen, chief commercial officer of Malaysia Airlines.
Based on the positive statistics and China’s huge potential for outbound tourism, Mehlen is quite confident that Malaysia Airlines will regain its status as a Skytrax five-star airline company that it had in 2011 and 2013.
“Currently, the passenger load factor of Malaysia Airlines between China and Malaysia reached 90 percent, which means we have rebuilt customer confidence thanks to our aggressive marketing strategies. The damaging effect of the plane crash two years ago has become not so much an issue now, and we are basically through this issue,” he added.
He reckons that China’s tourist market to Malaysia is growing rapidly due to the shared cuisine, language and cultural connections. Because Goldman Sachs forecasts that the passport ownership rate in the mainland will increase from 4 percent in 2014 to 15 percent in 2025, tourism from China to Malaysia has huge growth potential.
Malaysia Airlines’ CEO Peter Bellew unfolded a more aggressive plan for the Chinese market: “Malaysia Airlines plans to triple Chinese business over the next five years. I see potential for direct flights to 20 Chinese cities from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2019.”
Two years ago, Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft — Flight 370 and Flight 17 — less than five months apart, exacerbating the airline’s financial troubles and leading to the re-nationalization of the airline. Prior to 2014, Malaysia had one of the world’s best safety records — just two fatal accidents in 68 years of operation, including the hijacking in 1977 of Flight 653 that resulted in 100 deaths.
number of expected direct flights to China