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Malaysia Airlines continues to ramp up flights to Australia, with the Oneworld member on track to largely resume its pre-pandemic schedule to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth by December 1.
“We already have 10 flights a week to Melbourne and Sydney at the moment, and it is expected to grow from November to December to its pre-COVID capacity with 14 flights a week, a double daily service,” says Giles Gilbert, Regional Manager. of Malaysia Airlines for Australia and New Zealand.
“In Adelaide, we hope to go back to having five flights a week; Perth will probably be at ten, and for Brisbane we hope to have three or four a week.”
Those increases are fueled by steady growth in demand in both directions: “it’s increasing every week,” with the business-class cabin now proving especially popular with tourists.
“We’re certainly finding customer demand for a more premium product from people who would normally have flown economy,” says Gilbert. Executive Traveler.
“I think there is an expectation that they are going to have a good vacation.”
This includes subsequent trips to London, Malaysia Airlines’ main European destination, with two daily flights on modern A350s.
“We’ve been back to double daily for just over a month, so the London route is doing very well.”
At the airline’s hub in Kuala Lumpur, both its Golden Lounge and Platinum Lounge are now open 24 hours a day, while new routes include twice-daily flights to Doha alongside partner Qatar Airways, as well as flights to the airport. Haneda from central Tokyo along with the more distant Narita. supply for the Japanese market currently limited.
“It’s a gradual start because Japan is still in lockdown mode,” Gilbert muses, “but Haneda has always been a target, so we thought we’d give it a try, and it seems to be working really well right now.”
Another new pin on the map is a direct route between Singapore and Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo, enjoying close proximity to tropical islands and lush tropical forests.
“Overall, we’re certainly seeing some opportunities and taking advantage of them to expand our network.”
That expansion, as well as the relatively quick 2019 network rebuild, has been facilitated by the airline’s decision not to place any aircraft in deep storage.
Instead, the planes “continued to fly in a rotation,” says Gilbert. Executive Traveler, “and operating them primarily as cargo flights with few or no passengers on board.”
This decision was informed by Group CEO Captain Izham Ismail’s first-hand experience and “his knowledge of the complexities of returning an aircraft to service”, reveals Gilbert.
“The hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing, and now we can see how other carriers have struggled to get their fleet operational again, because the engineering time to get an aircraft out of storage is quite considerable, and the engineering departments don’t they are usually overstaffed anyway. .”
Malaysia Airlines was “very lucky in that regard,” says Gilbert, “as the entire fleet is still operational.”
While the airline continues to fly its reclining business class Airbus A330 workhorse to most Australian cities, these will be replaced by the newer A330neo model from 2023; Boeing 737 short-haul jets are now getting a new look and experience for passengers through an upgrade to new business and economy seats.
Gilbert also reports an ongoing commitment to MHBiz’s loyalty programs, which cover both self-booking business travelers and companies that rely on a designated third-party travel management agency.
“Certainly today, companies are looking to save money; we certainly offer good discounts to corporate clients when they travel again, because face-to-face meetings work so much better than Zoom!”
“And one of the nice things about the MHBiz programs is that the discounts can also be used for leisure travel,” he adds.