MAS BOOKINGS RISE TO 3.57M IN Q1

Na­tional car­rier con­fi­dent of be­ing prof­itable next year

New Straits Times - - Business / News - OOI TEE CHING bt@me­di­aprima.com.my

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.

PIC BY ZAHARI ZAKARIA

Through­out this year, Malaysia Air­lines plans 11 new routes to China from Kuala Lumpur, Pe­nang and Kota Kinabalu.

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