By IZZAT RATNA
Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) is banking on its proposed expansion into China, North Asia and India as the main drive to make the company profitable in the second-half of 2018 (2H18).
CEO Peter Bellew said MAB is also ahead of schedule with its target to break even in its financial year 2018 (FY18), before seeing consistent profits in the following year.
In line the company’s recovery plan, he said MAB’s current focus is to work harder in driving revenue, increasing overall load factors, as well as improving sales and marketing initiatives that could attract more overseas visitors into Malaysia.
“It would really just take another little percentage to achieve consistent profits amid challenging market sentiment and competitive environment as Kuala Lumpur is known to be the most competitive Asian market in the world right now.
“However, I cannot reveal any figures yet for next year’s financial calendar as I think in the airline business, anything can happen,” he told reporters at the unveiling ceremony of the Negaraku livery on the B737-800 aircraft in Sepang yesterday.
He said he would make the necessary announcement when the company has more concrete figures to present to the public.
Bellew said MAB is optimistic that it could increase its fleets next year, while improving product innovations, which is expected to attract better yields as well as having a beneficial financial impact on the airlines’ balance sheet.
He added that the expansion into China, North Asia and India is expected to begin in 2018, and that would be the main driver for the company to be profitable next year.
The confidence is also based on the booming population, increasing middle class and incredible growing economic links within the region.
MAB has already added 11 new routes, mainly in China, an expansion exercise that started in June last year.
“Normally you would expect new routes to operate at 50% to 60% load factor for the first few months, but the routes in China are actually operating at 100% load factor immediately since commencement.
“Our business in Australia has also improved dramatically over the last 12 months and we are starting to look at Brisbane as an option to expand new routes,” Bellew added.
MAB has also shortlisted approximately 30 different airports for new potential routes to operate in the span of the next five years.
“It is just a matter of picking the ones that have the greatest chances of success, which will also bring the best tourism and economic benefits to Malaysia,” he added.
The livery unveiling ceremony yesterday was witnessed and officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
In his keynote address, Najib said the feeling of self-esteemed has returned to MAB, which is a testament of the government’s efforts to rehabilitate the national carrier.
“As far as I am concern, as well as many Malaysians, we do not look at the airline as an ordinary airline. To us, the brand is about the nation.
“Therefore, we must ensure the airline recovers to fly high and soar to greater heights,” he added.
Meanwhile, Najib pointed out that out of the 6,000 retrenched staff members, 78% have been registered for other employment opportunities, of which about 98% have successfully secured new employments.
“This is proof that the government’s focus has and would always be in ensuring the welfare of the people, which is just one of the many other things that we have done for the people,” he added.
The livery is part of MAB’s contribution in incorporating the spirit of Negaraku across its collaterals on the ground and online.
Apart from the B737-800, the airline will also be displaying the Negaraku livery on the ATR-72-500, with MASwings and Firely, as well as on the new Airbus 350 — expected at the end of 2017.