MAS to double Asia Pacific routes – chairman

MAS has ordered six A380s
MAS has ordered six A380s

Malaysia Airline (MAS) plans to almost double its Asia Pacific destinations in the next three years, the company’s Chairman has revealed.

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Md Nor Md Yusof said that a renewed focus on regional markets would see MAS fly to as many as 25 cities in countries including China, Japan and India by 2015, compared with 13 at present. Flights on some existing routes will also be boosted, he said.

“The airline business is closely linked to the economic cycle and there is a consensus that the Asia Pacific region is the bright spot,” Yusof said in the interview in Kuala Lumpur. “There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic.”

The focus on regional destinations forms part of a major turnaround plan for MAS, following five consecutive quarterly losses totalling MYR2.57 billion (US$806m). The airline has already cancelled several loss-making long-haul routes in the first quarter of 2012, including Dubai, Johannesburg, Rome and Buenos Aires, and recently added frequencies to several regional hubs including Taipei, Phnom Penh, Manila, Jakarta and Bangkok.

MAS had planned to create a new premium carrier with Qantas, which would have focused on regional Asia Pacific destinations. Talks regarding the venture broke down earlier this year, although Qantas CEO Alan Joyce had said that he may revisit the idea future.

Yusuf also revealed that MAS will stick to its existing planes orders. The carrier took delivery of the first of six Airbus A380s last month, and will commence superjumbo flights on the KL-London route on 1 July. The airline will also fly the aircraft to Sydney. Yusof, who was onboard an A3880 test flight earlier this month, said demand for the new aircraft was strong.

“The bookings for the A380s have been good and there is a waiting list at the moment,” he said.

To boost its cash flow, MAS has entered into a sale and leaseback arrangement with the Malaysian government for all six A380s and two new A330s.
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