Australia is one of Malaysia Airlines’ key markets, Chief Commercial Officer Dersenish Aresandiran has told travelBulletin, as the carrier looks to increase all of its frequencies into Australia – which could include the reintroduction of flights to Brisbane next year.
Aresandiran said the airline would like to get to the point it was at pre-pandemic, which could include flying to some Australian destinations three times per day.
Malaysia flies to four of Australia’s five key capital cities, with Brisbane the missing link; however, a return to Queensland is still being “reviewed” by the airline, Aresandiran revealed.
“Australia is still a very core market for us,” he said.
“[It] connects very well to our UK market…we’ve also got the Indian market, which is up to about nine cities right now…there’s a lot of transit between these markets.
“The more we put in Britain in the east, the more frequencies will be required in Australia, so it is a commodity for us to grow.”
The travel trade continues to be Malaysia’s main source of bookings from Australia, Aresandiran revealed, with the airline set to lean on agents as operations in the country continue to recover.
“We want to make sure we are trade-friendly…[it] is very important so we don’t try to penalise the trade, we want to say how do we work together across the ecosystem,” he said.
This attitude will extend to travel advisors who continue to use GDS to book Malaysia fares.
“Rather than give you a restriction if you book it on GDS, we’re saying if you come to an NDC, you get an incentive, but if you still continue to book on our normal platform, we’re not going to penalise you,” Aresandiran explained.
Australia is also one of the top feeders for Malaysia’s Bonus Side Trip, which was introduced just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program has been selling well for 12 months now, particularly out of long-haul markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom, with Malaysia looking to potentially expand it in the near future.
“[The Bonus Side Trip] is generally well subscribed in the long-haul markets…we’re seeing a much better pick up as the market opens up…there’s a lot more demand,” Aresandiran said.
Other popular new programs initiated by Malaysia in the past few months include MHcruise and MHsports, which offer various incentives to cruisers and adventure travellers.
Malaysia’s recent product developments aim to help the airline in its goal to become one of Skytrax’s top 10 in the world by 2030, occupying the “leisure premium” sector.
The airline hopes to have “one of the best Business classes”, the likes of which will compete with the other premium carriers, Aresandiran enthused.
He added Malaysia will not be unbundling its Business fares in the same way top-10 Skytrax airlines Qatar Airways and Emirates have done.
“As we grow, what Malaysia Airlines wants to do in the premium segment is actually improve its offerings, so rather unbundling the high-end premium, what if we charge you the fare, but give you something better,” Aresandiran suggested.
“We don’t want to take you down the funnel, we want to drive you up the funnel, which means improving our offerings.”
This objective includes better meals and free wi-fi across Malaysia’s entire fleet.
“If you say if you’re unbundling, give you no wi-fi, no baggage, maybe no lunch, that’s also similar to somebody who’s buying a high Economy fare – how would you differentiate that?”
Australia will be a beneficiary of the airline’s repositioning, with Aresandiran committing its new Airbus A330neos to the local market.
“I think that will definitely fly to Australia and UK, the high-end, premium sectors…we’re really looking forward to that.”