Malaysia Airlines Makes China a Big Part of its Comeback Strategy

23rd Jan 2017

Speaking about the next steps for Malaysia Airlines Bhd, the CEO of the company Peter Bellew revealed plans for its big comeback, saying that Hong Kong will have a big role in it. MAB will add nine new mainland routes in 2017 and there are plans to increase existing services to Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Namely, MAB is looking to build on the Malaysia-China partnership with nine mainland routes to destinations such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Haikou and Nanjing, as well as by doubling the daily service to Shanghai.

In addition, MAB also has plans to double down on the KL-HK route and introduce a bigger plane, more economy class seats and lie-flat business class beds on it.

 According to Bellew, China offers an “outstanding” opportunity thanks to the cultural similarities it shares with Malaysia. One of the things that showed the close ties between Malaysia and China was the latest visit of the Malaysian PM Najib Razak to the Chinese capital last year. After that visit, the Prime Minister returned with RM144 billions in trade deals.

Of course, one potential problem could be the airline’s still a bit shaken reputation following the MH370 and MH17 disasters in 2014. Of 239 passengers on board Flight MH370, 154 were from China.

However, according to Mr. Bellew, senior Chinese officials have already backed MAB’s plans. He also added on the MH370 incident:

I think the Chinese have forgiven us for what has happened.

Bellew also spoke about MH370 accident and how the company has moved on since:

MH370 will affect staff for ever, some of whom lost family and friends. But they have built resilience. Part of what we are doing is harnessing that energy. We were the pride of the nation. We want to restore that.

Others also agree that turning to China is a good move for the airline.

Brendan Sobie, an analyst for the Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said:

There is a lot of opportunity in China for Malaysia Airlines, but there is also a lot of competition in the Malaysia-China market, and some risk, as the growth we have seen in this market over the last year may not continue indefinitely.

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