Malaysia Airlines Takes On AirAsia With Expansion On 3 New Routes

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  • Malaysia Airlines expands global reach with three new routes announced at MATTA Fair.
  • Focus on luxury travel market as consumer demand shifts towards premium services.
  • Strong competitive edge despite existing low-cost carrier presence in new destinations.

Malaysia Airlines is making big moves to enhance its global reach. Over the last few days, it has unveiled an impressive flurry of announcements. Firstly, the airline’s record-breaking financial performance and then the announcement of its global partnership with English soccer club Manchester United. To round off a trio of good news, the airline revealed three new routes have joined its network.


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The gateway to Asia and beyond

As a member of the oneworld alliance, Malaysia Airlines offers connectivity to more than 900 destinations in 170 territories worldwide. Today’s launch of three new routes adds to its growing network, which recently saw the addition of three new destinations in India.

Malaysia Airlines officially announced three new routes in its network at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair, a major industry trade fair in Kuala Lumpur. Launched on March 22, customers can now book direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Malé, Maldives, Da Nang, Vietnam, and Chiang Mai, Thailand.


From Kuala Lumpur To The World: The History Of Malaysia Airlines

The carrier has been around for nearly eight decades.

This brings the airline network to a total of 16 destinations in Southeast Asia, and 13 in South Asia – both regions are among the flag carrier’s key markets. Daily flights to Malé will commence on August 1 this year, while services to Chiang Mai will run at a five-weekly frequency starting August 15. Daily flights to Da Nang will begin on September 24.

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A350 flying in the sky.
Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock

Chief Commercial Officer of Airlines, Malaysia Aviation Group (parent of Malaysia Airlines), Dersenish Aresandiran said:

“These routes will strengthen our position as the gateway to Asia and beyond, in line with our commercial elevation strategy.”

Entering low-cost territory

The Asia-Pacific region is increasingly dominated by low-cost carriers. Just a decade ago, budget airlines accounted for only 14% of the total seat capacity in the region. Today, more than 50% of the total market share is held by low-cost carriers.

A fleet of AirAsia A320 jets

Photo: Rei Imagine | Shutterstock

Therefore, one might wonder what Malaysia Airlines’ strategy is when it comes to expanding into destinations that have a significant low-cost carrier presence. For example, Malaysia’s largest carrier by fleet, AirAsia, flies direct to all three cities from its home base of Kuala Lumpur.


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India is an important international market for the carrier.

It was 20 years ago, in 2004, that the Thai arm of AirAsia launched operations with flights between Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur. In 2011, the budget carrier began direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Da Nang. Then, it began direct flights to Malé in 2015.

Despite AirAsia’s established presence in these destinations, Malaysia Airlines has a strong competitive edge: the increasing demand for premium travel. Consumer tastes in the region are shifting towards luxury travel, with the market predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% between now and 2030, per Grand View Research.

As a full-service carrier, Malaysia Airlines prides itself on its premium service offerings. With its new fleet of Boeing 737-800s and upcoming A330neos, free WiFi across all classes, revamped catering menu, and more, it is confident that its Malaysian Hospitality will shine on its three latest routes.

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