September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
Malaysia Airlines has gone double daily with an A380 superjumbo between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur, and will bring its fifth and sixth A380 aircraft into service in the spring to serve Paris with a daily A380 service. Tom Otley talks to Dean Dacko, senior VP marketing, commercial about the airline’s aims and strategy
Replacing your B747s on the London to Kuala Lumpur route is obviously welcome, but it’s a big increase in capacity (see box, below). Is this part of a larger fleet renewal?
It is. We are bringing on 21 new aircraft next year, with the two new A380s, new A330s, and a total of 11 B737-800s; these last aircraft are one of the most efficient aircraft available for the domestic short-haul environment. These deliveries complement our strategy of creating Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) as a hub, bringing passengers in from the UK on an A380 and then onwards in Malaysia and the region.
What percentage of your passengers from Heathrow fly on from KL?
About 60 per cent of the uplift in the UK goes to Malaysia, including other domestic points, 10 per cent to Australasia, and the rest to Asia. KL is an excellent airport which has the space and the slots, so we need to grow using the right aircraft and the utilisation of short runs within Asia.
Will the long haul A330s have new seats on board?
They will. Australasia is an important market for us and that’s why we are deploying the A330s down there, and they have fully flat business class - the same as the A380. Continuity of customer experience is important to us, so we are trying to achieve a uniformity of customer experience. We’ve had a number of different aircraft types and we have some such as the B747 that don’t map well with that. We need to renew our fleet and that’s active and ongoing and by the time we finish next year we’ll have one of the youngest fleets in south-east Asia. We’ll be flying the A380 into Paris in the spring 2013 and we are looking at a new lounge at Charles de Gaulle. But we have to see whether we are moving terminals from one to two - we are still in discussions with Aeroports de Paris about that.
Do you have any plans to introduce premium economy?
We’ve no plans for it. We’ve had great success with the A380 in three classes of first and business and economy, with a load factor of high 80s on the A380 out of London, and satisfaction levels are high, so customers are responding in a very positive way. There’s a lot of capacity in the market. I think we are making progress on managing our inventory and we have a whole new team coming on board who will help us with this, and our revenue management systems are becoming more sophisticated. We were highly sporadic before, but we need a distribution strategy which has a number of anchors, so customers can transact with us directly, but also with travel agents.
We are moving away from being highly tactical to being strategic. We used to look at our capacity and discount immediately and we would go from one discount to another. Now we are utilising technology to be more clever about it. Our reality is that we are bringing on a lot of capacity, so we have to look at load factors, getting people to try our product and build relationships.
What’s your strategy as an airline?
The aim is to get profitable. There will be a tripling of the fleet in total. The reality is recognising that in order to be competitive you need to continuously improve. Our history has been spending money and then nothing happening for many years. We need to bring on aircraft continually, retire the old planes, and keep the fleet current, fresh, new and efficient. The main driver behind being able to make money is having efficient aircraft. We can’t have delays on the ground causing issues from both a customer’s perspective and from a cost standpoint.
Are you growing the market or taking customers from competitors?
We are looking to grow our market share, but we will also be highly competitive with our competitors.
What do you hope to get out of becoming a Oneworld member?
Once we get into Oneworld, we will be helped in our sales to corporate customers. We still have work to do with contracting both within Oneworld and without, but what I’ve noticed is that aside from the fact that the sales team here in the UK is doing a very good job, we were possibly underestimating the effect of the A380 and how people have gravitated towards it. We now have the chance to have a steady proposition for customers. We can also look about sharing lounges around the network. It will also provide a huge network for travellers, so we can build a customer base without doubling the size of the fleet.
Qatar Airways joining Oneworld is both good and bad for you isn’t it?
There are a lot of dynamics there, yes. We have to leverage the benefits of participation that Oneworld membership brings and also recognise the competition out there which is a fact of life. You can’t change the world, you can only change your product.
Malaysia Airlines' UK services:
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 aircraft are in three classes (economy, business and first) with a total of 494-seats.
The flights are:
Malaysia Airlines is the only carrier to offer direct non-stop services between UK and Malaysia. The A380 services will offer 6,916 seats weekly compared to 5,026 seats offered through the previous double daily B747-400 operations, allowing more passengers to travel on the latest superjumbo aircraft. Malaysia Airlines is the eighth operator of this aircraft and will receive its remaining two A380 during the first quarter of 2013.
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