MAS BOOKINGS RISE TO 3.57M IN Q1
National carrier confident of being profitable next year
MALAYSIA Airlines’ (MAS) passenger bookings rose 12.9 per cent to 3.57 million in the first three months of the year, despite a challenging environment due to costlier fuels and adverse foreign exchange.
In a statement yesterday, the national carrier said domestic load factor for the first quarter improved to 70.8 per cent from 64.7 per cent in the same period a year ago, while international load factor rose to 81.1 per cent from 69.6 per cent.
Group chief executive officer Peter Bellew said yields were lower due to intense competition and a price war.
“We expect an ongoing price war in Malaysia to suppress average fares for the remainder of 2017,” he added.
Effective January 1 this year, the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) levelled the passenger service charges (PSC) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) for Asean and domestic flights.
This has boosted MAS’s bookings significantly across Asean routes and allowed it to compete fairly for the first time in nine years.
PSC for passengers flying on MAS’s non-Asean international routes from KLIA is RM73 per pax compared with RM50 for those flying with MAS competitors from klia2.
Mavcom has confirmed that the charges will be equalised from January 1 next year, but with the current higher fuel prices, MAS has requested for an early equalisation starting in September.
Bellew also said MAS’s network expansion was on track. Throughout this year, the airline plans 11 new routes to China from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu.
Three new destinations to Wuhan, Fuzhou and Nanjing will start next month, with additional services to Chengdu and Chongqing in October.
The Kota Kinabalu-Tianjin services, as well as two additional routes from Penang to new Chinese destinations, are targeted for launch in the third quarter.
MAS’s current fleet comprises 54 B 737-800, 15 A330-300 and six Airbus A380. “We’re seeking more wide-body aircraft on shortto-medium-term leases to facilitate growth,” he said.
Bellew said a weak ringgit and increased fuel prices would continue to create a challenging environment for the airline moving forward.
“We’ll continue to be prudent in controlling capacity and allocate aircraft where we see the best potential returns. We’re still on track to be profitable next year,” he added.
Throughout this year, Malaysia Airlines plans 11 new routes to China from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu.