Malaysia Airlines has gone through a very tough previous years. They had two major aircraft loses during a time they were struggling. The bad press led them to have to reorganize and to downsize. For a few years, it seems that Malaysia Airlines was in a perilous situation. After the years of hardship, it seems that the airline is having a very strong rebound. As part of this rebound, the airline has strengthened their position in the region. In addition to this, Malaysia AIrlines’ OneWorld commitment has been reiterated. There are a few things that the airline still has on its to do list, however.
Enrich Program Overhaul
One of the things the airline has been trying to improve is their Enrich program. A few years ago, the airline had a massive devaluation of their frequent flyer program. They realized, unlike most US carriers, that this only hurts their bottom line. After considering many candidates, the airline appointed Mark Ross Smith the new leader of the program. Their new focus is to add benefits, improve cooperation with other airlines and market it better. They expect the program to be a strong rival to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer. As Malaysia Airlines seeks to improve Enrich, the airline will try to add partners.
Old Friends, New Friends
Part of what the airline is also looking to do is add new partners to their list. They currently are not very active in OneWorld, but the airline is seeking to change that. MH has looked into expanding their codeshare with Qantas, and allowing more reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. Beyond Qantas, the airline will strengthen ties with other OneWorld partners. They are also looking for partners in areas where OneWorld is either lacking or non-existing. This push will allow Malaysia’s customers to be more connected and have access to a wider network.
The airline is one of the few small operators of the A380. Currently, they only fly it to London-LHR. This makes the operation of the aircraft very difficult, as ultra-long haul flights are very difficult to turn a profit on. As the airline looks to improve their financial performance, they will add the A350 to their network. With the addition of the A350, the airline will be able to replace the A380 on the LHR route. This change will provide the airline with better financial performance on the route, and allow them to use the A380s more wisely. Their A350 has already been painted and is in final detailing. It should be delivered later this year.
Besides the A350, Malaysia Airlines ordered 6 787-9s, as well as 25 737MAX. The airline is also in talks to expand their 737 order to 50. This would allow the airline to replace their current fleet of 737-800 aircraft. As the airline continues to push for new expansion, we can hope to see them add more long haul aircraft.
The last addition the airline is doing to improve customer experience is renovating their lounges. The airline has various lounges in Malaysia, with their largest in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines also offers a lounge in London Heathrow. These two main lounges (KUL & LHR) are getting a major facelift. They will add an improved first class section, improved dining and seating for the business class section. The airline is already in the process of improving their domestic lounges in Malaysia. This will create greater appeal for people to travel on MH over other regional carriers.
I am glad to see Malaysia Airlines recovering. The airline has had a turbulent past, and most of it has not been its direct fault. With their new found strength, the airline is actually moving to improve the customer experience. These improvements set them apart from the pack of airlines, as most airlines are cutting back their programs and benefits. As Malaysia comes back from the twilight zone they endured, I expect them to grow into a regional powerhouse. If the airline plays their cards right, they could potentially become a global powerhouse in the likes of Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. Those days are years away, but I have high hopes for them.
What do you think? Will Malaysia be able to sustain this bounceback? Should the airline add more partners for their Enrich Program? Let us know!
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