Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 1:08 pm

Malaysia Airlines in Oneworld

By GEOFFREY THOMAS in Sydney Morning Herald, 03 June, 2000

Malaysia Airlines is on the verge of joining the
Qantas-British Airways Oneworld alliance

Officials in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney say the
catalyst for the decision is the involvement in
Oneworld of Qantas Airways and the success of
the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA),
now entering its third year of operation.

Over the past two years, Malaysia Airlines has
forged strong code-share links with KLM-Royal
Dutch Airlines and, more recently, Northwest
Airlines, leaders of the Wings Alliance.

But Oneworld members Qantas and British
Airways, which fear the impact of Star Alliance's
Singapore Airlines' new equity links with Air
New Zealand and Ansett, have been wooing
Malaysia Airlines.

Likewise, Malaysia Airlines has seen arch rival
Singapore Airlines take a 49 per cent stake in one
of its other partners, Virgin Airlines, thus cutting
the feed traffic from the UK that Virgin provided.

According to Malaysia Airlines executive
president Mr Dato Bashir Ahmed, it was time for
Malaysia Airlines to align with a major alliance.

"We will announce our choice at the end of June,"
he said. "Qantas and Oneworld have put an
attractive deal to us."

The booming Australian market has become a
major source of high-yield traffic for Malaysia
Airlines, which uses the 777 and 747 on
Australian routes.

Building an even greater market share with
Qantas' help is a priority for the Malaysian
carrier, which has recorded growth of up to 35
per cent on its Australian routes in the past three
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 1:18 pm

Well I wouldn't be surprised... I mean Malaysia is basically the only large SE Asian airline left (Thai/Singpore=Star) so oneworld should be courting them tremendously... never thought of Malaysia Airlines as a oneworld member... but the more i think of it the more i like it...

Head in the clouds... yet feet planted firmly on the ground.
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 2:34 pm

If this happen, I hope that Thai will go to the Qualiflyer!
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 8:27 pm

The curious thing is that Lord King of British Airways initially approached Malaysia Airlines way back in 1990 when Langkawi International Airport first opened. This was before Malaysia Airlines and Virgin Atlantic entered into a code-share on the UK-Oz routes.

It started when MAS requested for extra access and capacity into the UK at that time whilst BA found itself struggling to compete with MAS on the KUL-LHR route. Having lost a 747-Classic in Kuwait at the start of the Gulf War - flight BA149 was bound for Kuala Lumpur did not exactly give BA fantastic press in Malaysia.

I am not aware of what the talks were exactly about but things did go VERY sour when they ended. This led MAS to form a partnership with Virgin instead and left BA making one last attempt at the Malaysian market by introducing its own non-stop 747-400 service replacing the slow (but nifty) TriStars and the 747-Classics previously used on the KUL route.

Earnings at BA Malaysia recovered during the later-90s and KUL was once again placed on the Kangaroo route with KUL-PER and KUL-MEL services being reintroduced. BA was keen to develop KUL into a mini-SIN-hub but plans to tie Qantas into its Malaysian services left BA once again on its own. Although QF/BA's LHR-KUL-SYD services over the last couple of years were almost constantly full - QF pulled out of Malaysia again.

BA today succesfully flies the 777-200ER six times a week into KUL and plans to go daily from Oct this year.

BA and Qantas had always been keener to use Singapore as a hub but since SQ has gone to STAR - I suppose it is really only MAS left in the region...I am still unsure - since Cathay Pacific has pretty good coverage within S.E.Asia itself...does OneWorld really need Malaysia to feed passengers - or will 'Wings' increase its ante on Malaysia Airlines.

Note that MAS' timetable already resembles a 'Wings' partner but stranger things have happened - may KLM join OneWorld too?!!
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 9:57 pm

I don't think so..........The article mentions
the Kuala Lumpur Airport as a success in its
third year of operations. Fact is, it is a huge
white elephant and has yet to turn a profit.

Malaysia has ties to Virgin and Northwest,
which would technically put it in the Wings
grouping, which admittedly, is falling apart
at the seams with KLM and Alitalia splitting
and the stakes raised in a possible AMR/
NWAC link-up. Malaysia also flies several
times a week from Newark to Kuala Lumpur
via Dubai (777's) and has been courting
Continental for some time now on a link

Malaysia has questionable safety practices.
The UK government nearly banned the air-
line from landing at Heathrow after it was
discovered that pilots routinely flew aircraft
on dangerously low fuel levels.

Malaysia Airlines does not have the status
or prestige of Thai, Singapore, or Cathay
and has a relatively marginal route network
in the region when compared to the other
three. A more likely scenario would be for
Thai to leave Star and join Oneworld.

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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sat Jun 03, 2000 10:32 pm


I think the questionable safety practices is a debate long-buried...the whole 'Times' article had political undertones too...and besides MAS admitted to those occasions when their 744s flew into LHR underfueled - the pilots were at fault and not the airline which took appropriate steps to prevent the same thing from happening again...

...if you want to talk safety - 'pretigious' SIA recently had a group of pilots who resigned due to safety fears. 'Pretigious' Thai has had a recent spate of air crashes...oh...and let's not forget the SilkAir suicide crash that is part of 'pretigious' SIA. Malaysia Airlines has one of the FINEST safety records of any airline in the world...might I add...perhaps you ought to check your records.

As for route network - MAS is actually South-East Asia's largest carrier, with over 38 domestic points alone - something SIA does NOT have access to.

Have you flown into KUL and if you have - you would realise that you have written utter rubbish (sorry to be so blunt). Kuala Lumpur is NOT a white-elephant. Before KUL was built - all flights used Subang International (now coded - SZB) and renamed Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International. SZB was an utter nightmare with congestion and a lack of terminal space. From car-parking to check-in, to constant relocating of departure gates, to aircraft being held on the taxiway for almost 30 minutes at a time, to a lack of baggage belts at Arrivals...the list is endless. Until then - it was little wonder passengers chose Changi over Subang...henceforth, the building of Kuala Lumpur International was a breath of fresh air to the millions of passengers who use it - and hardly a 'white elephant'.#

I take it you're a Continental fan and one of Wings - but at this stage - its almost funny that Wings may end up with Garuda as its SE Asian link.
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sun Jun 04, 2000 6:22 am

I just flew from ZRH over KUL to AKL with Malaysian and I have to say, that KLIA is just perfect!  

RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sun Jun 04, 2000 6:41 am

If Malaysia does join oneworld, they will be a very good fit for the alliance. Unlike STAR, which has Thai and Singapore Airlines that have hubs very close together, in Asia KLIA and Cathay's Hong Kong hub are farther apart to be more appealing - plus oneworld will have hubs at 2 of the newest airports in Asia. Although I won't take anything away from Singapore, and I expect the new Bangkok airport will be very good. From what I've heard Malaysia Airlines' service is up there with the very best, and on a personal point of view their flights from Manchester may only be 3 times a week, but they are non-stop, unlike Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines' daily one-stop flights!
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RE: Malaysia Airlines In Oneworld Alliance

Sun Jun 04, 2000 9:37 pm

Malaysia Airlines is a fine carrier indeed and not rushing into an alliance for the time being has reaped some benefits - it now has 4 major groupings courting it to join - 'Wings', OneWorld, Qualiflyer and AF/Delta.


Still a front-runner in my book. MAS already code-shares with KLM and Northwest and the three airlines were planning to extend this to cover each others regions. The 3 carriers have also had first-round talks with regards to MAS is very serious about joining this alliance. In line with such plans, MAS started code-sharing with Alitalia and Garuda this year and has been encouraging Continental to do the same. However, as we all know, things at 'Wings' seem to be going to pots over the last few months...KLM and Alitalia breaking-up and more recently, BA's possibility of buying into KLM - now puts MAS' decision back somewhat.


Strategically, MAS' wisest decision would be to join this group. However, political differences between MAS and the other carriers may cause it to think this through carefully. BA and MAS have long been arch-rivals ever since Malaysia's 'Buy British Last' campaign in the early-80s after a row between Mahathir and Thatcher. Although relations between the latter two have thawed significantly - their national carriers still have a lot of dirty-linen to iron out. Similar tensions exist with Qantas, where QF has concentrated virtually ALL its services at Singapore and neglected Malaysia - questions should be raised as to whether or not Qantas wants another hub at KUL or MAS as a partner. The last Australian leader Paul Keating was not a great fan of Mahathir either...just to add fuel to the fire...and was not keen on Malaysian investment. Oddly, relations between Cathay and Malaysian have always been cordial - the two used to work together on the Bornean routes until Dragonair was conceived to take-over such markets. Cathay has also been given limited rights for KUL-Penang which no other carrier into Malaysia seems to have taken up. American Airlines and the other OneWorld members have shown little or no interest in having MAS on-board - perhaps a down-side.


Malaysia Airlines already code-shares with Swissair although would be upset that its partner Lauda Air has/will go to STAR. To MAS' advantage - the SIA/Swissair/Delta deal that fell through has left SR looking for a Far Eastern carrier and MAS' route structure is not too dissimilar to SIA's. Although MAS will have a great foothold in Europe - which is what it is looking for - the Qualiflyer group is still lacking in major N.American (and to a lesser extent for MAS' purposes, S. American and African carriers).


Personally, should MAS join this grouping - I would eat my hat. MAS and AF are still at logger-heads over MAS' rights into CDG and proposed NCE. AF has also withdrawn services into Malaysia (eventhough French nationals make up one of the larger expatriate communities in Malaysia - presumably why MAS' CDG route does so well as there is little choice unless they route via SIN). Delta has pussy-footed around the idea of starting flights to KUL but perhaps does not have the necessary Westcoast hub to do so unlike NW which has successfully operated into KUL after much deliberation. Continental which currently code-shares with AF comes up again and doesn't seem particularly interested - as mentioned above. Air-India which code-shares with AF could be a plus for MAS but MAS' attempts to work with Air-India - due to India's traffic regulations MAS has had to pool services in the past - has seen both carriers going separate ways.


The jury is out on this one - but as the last major S.E.Asian carrier left to commit to a grouping - the spotlight (something MAS is always keen to attract)certainly will be on MAS' decision. We also anticipate MAS' large aircraft order (737 replacement and long-range type) and new corporate image around the same time....

...psst...word has it that MAS' new image WAS to reflect entry into 'Wings' but has now gone back to the drawing board.

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