Malaysia Airlines has slowly been trying to turn around after years of losses even before the tragedies of MH 17 and MH 370. Last week, Malaysia Airlines announced a new partnership and codeshare with Emirates to cover offline destinations throughout Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Now Malaysia Airlines has announced exactly what I expected, the end of long-haul flying with the exception of London.
Malaysia Airlines has made several network cuts over the last 8 years, ending service to South America, South Africa, the United States, and shedding many destinations throughout Europe. In recent times, the only remaining long haul routes have been to London, Paris, and Amsterdam and next year, Malaysia Airlines plans to pull out of all long haul flying with the exception of London.
Malasyia Airlines’ current route map – excluding Europe
As CAPA reports:
“The flag carrier has now decided to cut Amsterdam and Paris also, which are currently served daily with 777s. Highly unprofitable, Amsterdam and Paris are not considered critical markets, unlike London. Malaysia Airlines has been impacted by declining business demand from the oil industry in the Malaysia-Netherlands market, and the Paris route remained unprofitable even after Air France withdrew from Kuala Lumpur in Oct-2015.
The last flights to Amsterdam and Paris will operate on 25-Jan-2016, just a few days prior to the launch of the codeshare with Emirates.”
I am personally surprised to learn that Paris was unprofitable for Malaysia Airlines, even after they reduced daily A380 service down to a B777 after Air France stopped flying the route. I flew First class on Malaysia Airlines in November, 2014 from Paris to Malaysia and enjoyed superb service. Seeing this route and option downgraded and now removed is truly sad.
With the end of flying to Europe, Malaysia Airlines will begin focus on regional flying and flying wholly within the Asia Pacific and Middle East with most medium haul routes between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. With the exception for London, Malaysia Airline longest routes will be to the South Pacific and Saudi Arabia, all well within the range of A330s. Interesting enough, many of Malaysia remaining routes will be able to be served by the backbone of their fleet, the Boeing 737-800s. As only South/Eastern Australia, New Zealand, and Jeddah are out of range of the 737-800 which can fly approximately 3,500 miles without payload restrictions, providing MH flexibility with aircraft placement. Despite this, I would be surprised to see Malaysia Airlines replace B777 and A330s with B737 on slot restricted airports such as Beijing and Tokyo; and other high density routes within Asia.
The only routes Malaysia Airines’ B737-800s cannot fly, with the exception of London
Seeing Malaysia airline downgraded to a regional player saddens me, but as Gulf carriers have grown, transit carriers on the former kangaroo routes and silk road to Europe routes have suffered the most. Malaysia Airlines is now flying the white surrender flag, and instead of fighting Emirates, they’ve decided to join them. At this time, Malaysia Airlines does not plan to increase capacity to Dubai in order to fly more transfer traffics to Europe, but will instead rely on Emirates to do the flying. What will remain interesting is to see if Malaysia Airline can sell codeshare flights on Emirates flights at a low enough price that will keep their frequent flyer loyal, and thus in turn allowing Malaysia Airlines to intake revenues for flying passengers on Emriates metal instead of their own. I have a feeling that this saga is far from over.