Malaysia Air­lines eyes prof­its with new routes

> Look­ing to triple business in China, tar­gets list­ing of com­pany in 2019

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

SIN­GA­PORE: Malaysia Air­lines is bet­ting on its first new routes in al­most a decade and growth in China, where it wants to triple business over five years, to help it re­turn to prof­itabil­ity in 2018 and list the year af­ter, its chief ex­ec­u­tive said yes­ter­day.

Peter Bellew, who took the reins of the car­rier in July, said the group was al­ready los­ing less money than it had fore­cast and was on track to break even in the last quar­ter of 2017, with book­ings for the com­ing months ahead of last year, de­spite a re­duced fleet.

“We are in ex­pan­sion mode,” he told a gath­er­ing at the CAPA Asia Sum­mit 2016.

“March 2019. Not­with­stand­ing shocks, that’s our Olympic Games, that’s what we’re fo­cused on at the mo­ment,” he said, re­fer­ring to the group’s plans to be ready for a list­ing by 2019.

Key to its plans is China, where the air­line has al­ready said it would launch flights to eight new des­ti­na­tions and add 11 new routes be­tween the two coun­tries be­gin­ning early 2017, bet­ting on ge­o­graphic prox­im­ity and lin­guis­tic ties.

“They say they don’t need low cost car­ri­ers. They are look­ing for full ser­vice car­ri­ers, with al­liances,” he said.

Bellew, a for­mer Ryanair ex­ec­u­tive, said he also saw a shake­out among low-cost air­lines in the re­gion, which is one of the most crowded and in­cludes some of the tough­est com­peti­tors glob­ally.

Air­craft or­ders in In­done­sia and Malaysia, he said, are now more than dou­ble cur­rent Chi­nese air­craft or­ders.

“There are go­ing to be some big losers. There is go­ing to be blood on the floor,” he said, de­clin­ing to pick win­ners.

Malaysia Air­lines has been bat­tling to turn around its business since a dis­as­trous 2014, which saw the dis­ap­pear­ance of flight MH370, avi­a­tion’s great­est mys­tery, and the shoot­ing down of flight MH17 over east­ern Ukraine.

The na­tional car­rier was sub­se­quently taken pri­vate by Khaz­anah Na­sional Bhd as part of a re­struc­tur­ing plan, which in­cluded a shrink­ing of its net­work.

Since then, the air­line has can­celled all non-stop flights to Europe ex­cept those to Lon­don and ended sev­eral low-yield Asi­aPa­cific ser­vices.

Bellew has also re­or­gan­ised the group’s fleet, and re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day that the group, through a new unit, would rent out its Air­bus A380 su­per­jum­bos to reli­gious travel groups for Haj and Um­rah pil­grim­ages – a move that could dis­pel re­cent gloom over de­mand for the huge jets. – Reuters

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