Alex On … Can Malaysia Airlines’ current route network survive ?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  canucklad 26 Oct 2014
at 09:35

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  • Anonymous


    I ask, because a report in the Malaysian media (quoting analyst Moshin Aziz of Maybank Investment Bank) predicts that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will cut 25 per cent of its capacity in 2015.

    The cuts, caused by traffic and yield declines following the two fatal incidents this year, will probably be announced after Chinese New Year in February.

    Likely route cuts would be severe in the case of Europe. It would mean that MAS would quit every destination (it currently serves Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris CDG and London Heathrow) with the exception of London.

    Trouble is that MAS does not have any planes (with the exception of the A380) which would offer a competitive product on its European routes. But, of course, with the exception of London and perhaps Paris, the A380 is too large.

    The smaller B777-200s (the current mainstay of European operations) are being phased out in the future while the more modern A330s do not have the range to reach Northern Europe.

    And with British Airways launching a service to Kuala Lumpur in 2015, one wonders if MAS will continue to operate double-daily A380s into Heathrow.

    But, given the level of competition from both direct/indirect airlines, I don’t believe MAS has any alternative but to cut routes.


    An interesting one. I don’t think KL is well served by European carriers. Obviously the ME3 have lots of flights and decent fares, but until BA announced there return I didn’t think there was a big choice of airline – certainly if you wanted to avoid a change in the Gulf.

    I think the problem is partly historical with poor service levels (My 2 longhaul flights with them 3 years ago on the old 747 were the worst flights I have ever experienced from a service perspective). Many people I spoke to would want to avoid MH as much as possible. Sadly the 2 incidents this year will make it difficult for them to recover. Compared to Singapore Airlines down the road who people have much respect for and often with people happy to pay more to fly with them than other carriers, MH never seemed to have that position and with there bad luck – leaves them vulnerable.

    I haven’t tried the A380 – and no doubt the hard product is better. But if the service ethos is the same as before then they would struggle given recent incidents. I hope they stay – and that they don’t slash European routes. But perhaps an opportunity for them to refind themselves – and re-invent themselves.


    How many metaphors can you think off, Rock’s and hard places, fires and frying pans
    Simply put , the position the Malaysian government finds itself in, is basicallyy and crudely…. damned if you do, damned if you don’t .

    All governments need a strong “national” airline that represents their country. The more MAS shrinks, the more the visibility of that country shrinks. And as a consequence the reliance on foreign carriers to drive inward investment increases. No government wants this.

    Examples of this are…..Qantas and their relationship with Canberra, and in the same economic zone, look at the damage Garuda’s problems had on our perception of Indonesia as a whole.

    I’d challenge any of us to name a successful country that doesn’t have a recognised IATA “national” carrier. And that’s the enigma that the politicians in KL face ?


    Errrrrr, canucklad, look south beyond the 49th Parallel……

    Edited to add:

    Besides, it is worth remembering that Malaysia already has a much healthier alternative to MAS in Air Asia (and Air Asia X).


    Afternoon Tom
    That’s exactly my point………look at how the FAA and successive regimes in Washington ,both elephants and donkeys have strayed from capitalistic dogma to basically cover their carriers in cotton wool.

    And to further my point look at the bilateral agreements that have been signed. Open Skies tend to favour which countries airlines. On another topic on the forum, travelwell requested advice on the best route to Honolulu, wouldn’t it be nice if BA could ply LHR-Portland –HNL.?

    And you’re thoughts on their protection from bankruptcy laws (Chapter11) in a global economy?


    Quote: “I don’t think KL is well served by European carriers.”

    What, you mean other than nonstop flights by Air France, KLM, Lufthansa and Turkish?

    But, back to the OP, I’d agree that MAS’s European network is overdue a massive pruning, and LHR is the only destination guaranteed to survive – there is sufficient O&D traffic for both MH and BA on LHR-KUL, regardless of ME3


    I wasn’t considering Turkish in the mix, but of the other 3 carriers only KLM is daily. AF are only 3 times a week, LH 5 times a week. So I don’t personally consider that well connected to Europe direct. But a matter of opinion I guess.


    Clearly as they themselves have identified, they will cut routes, but they are now owned by The Government, and new Management to be entire very soon.

    I have travelled several times on their A380, and whilst i like all A380’s, they missed some opportunities by cutting the bar that was due to go at the front, some weeks before it was flying. This i heard from the Cabin Manager, replaced by Cupboards. The seats are also NOT fully flat in Business class, they dip as several reviews show. They needed at that time to go for something special and different, sadly it is now. Having flown them first in 1991, i think their demise is sad and unfortunate.

    Their flights down to Australia remain strong and i know several people flown in the last weeks and about to. they are now using A333’s on these routes.

    The shooting down of the MH plane, could have been one of 5 passing through that area in only 1/4 of an hour, so this could have been the fate of Qantas, Etihad, Emirates or BA.

    Malaysian’s Domestic network remains busy and strong, having flown them 6 weeks ago, most flights are full, with many Europeans and Australians on board, as well as locals.

    Under Government Control, they will survive, but clearly with nearby competition from SQ and TG to that area of Asia aside of them from major European cities, I am sure some will be cut.

    Let us not also forget the inroads that Etihad and Emirates, have made into taking their Australian Business, and i no longer fly Asia to get to Australia. Never-the-less, i think the demise of MH is sad for what was previously regarded as an excellent Airline for many years.


    Have to say, I don’t get is thing about the MAS A380 J beds not being fully flat (though as you say Marcus, it has been mentioned in several reviews). Having flown in them 5 or 6 times, they’ve always been fully flat for me…

    The only thing I can think of, perhaps, is that there’s a little recess in the seat in front, only a few inches deep, and not quite high enough for your feet if your toes are pointing straight up at the ceiling – perhaps, if you have your feet right on the end of the footstool as you’re putting the bed flat, maybe there’s some sort of mechanism that stops the footstool raising as it encounters resistance from your toes pressing against the top of the recess? Simple solution – move your feet 😉

    But I agree, they have missed a few tricks – nothing major in my view (aside from that recess being too small, perhaps!) but a few missing touches that could have made all the difference.

    That said, I have grown to love MAS’s A380 – it’s a very comfortable aircraft (even in economy – I found the seats softer than SQ’s for example) and certainly preferable to the BA 777-200 that will soon be on the LHR-KUL route 😉


    I have flown MH long haul twice in the past year. On the first occasion it was LHR-KUL-SYD and return. On the second occasion it was LHR-KUL-Male and return. On both occasions I travelled in business class and on both occasions the LHR-KUL-LHR sectors were on the A380. In my opinion compared to the SQ business window their A380 business seat doesn’t offer the same level of privacy or space. I think the problem with the seat is that the part of the seat supporting one’s feet is slightly angled. However on my second seat I wasn’t aware of this as being much of a problem. While the seat may not be as good as SQ’s, it’s better than LH’s angled flat seat or even their new fully flat business seat, both of which are currently on LH’s A380.
    MH’s problem is that there is no consistency between the business seat offered on their A380s, A330s and B777-200s. That said neither is there any consistency between the business class seat on SQ. My experience of MH service both on the ground and in the air has been very good. I have yet to experience the SQ lounge at LHR T2, but the MH lounge at LHR T4 (especially the First Class lounge which I am able to use as a BA Gold card holder) was far superior to SQ’s former T3 lounge.
    On my last flight from KUL to LHR I was upgraded to First and had an excellent experience.
    On my next trip to Brisbane at the beginning of December I was looking to fly SQ but they were charging £4,870 compared to £3,000 odd on MH so I’ve gone for the latter. I agree to some extent that MH have missed a trick with their A380s but overall their service is pretty good and their hard times are to regretted.


    canucklad – 24/10/2014: 14:47:. I’d challenge any of us to name a successful country that doesn’t have a recognised IATA “national” carrier. And that’s the enigma that the politicians in KL face ?

    Sweden/Denmark/Norway, who share SAS but don’t really have a national airline?

    Oh yes… America?. Several leading airlines but hard to point to a single national carrier

    Brazil, ditto

    China, double ditto

    Of course it all depends on how you define “successful”, but I’m fairly sure at least one of those countries would satisfy any reasonable definition


    Evening Ian,
    Good riposte…I’d argue in the case of SAS that those countries it represents actually thrive on the Scandinavian brand linked to their individual countries…but good point all the same.
    The US is also interesting, ,especially since the demise of the historic 2. I could argue that American influence has weaned since Pan Am in particular disappeared.
    And in your neck of the woods, I might put forward the thesis that Beijing have been particularly clever in the management of their ” multiple carriers” By creating regional variants of their national carrier ,they’ve successfully promoted and connected to the western world ,to the financial benefit of those regions rather Beijing or Shanghai centric.
    IMO Brazil is still a basket case of a country and needs a defined national carrier to promote their brilliant and magnificent country rather than relying on ……hmmmm BA etc …

    Anyway hope all is well in what I now regard as my 3rd home

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