Monday, May 22, 2017

Malindo Air syarikat penerbangan pertama di dunia guna B737 MAX 8

Pesawat B737 MAX 8, iaitu pesawat baharu Malindo Air di Terminal KLIA 1, KLIA.
SEPANG: Malindo Air, penerima anugerah Syarikat Penerbangan Serantau Terbaik 2016 muncul syarikat penerbangan pertama di dunia menggunakan Boeing 737 MAX 8 (B737 MAX 8).

Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Malindo Air, Chandran Rama Muthy, berkata pesawat baharu itu juga dilihat berupaya memperluas dan memperkukuh rangkaian destinasi penerbangan Malindo Air di samping menawarkan tambang yang lebih rendah kepada pelanggan.

"Menjadi syarikat penerbangan pertama di dunia yang menerima dan menggunakan pesawat Boeing 737 MAX 8 adalah kebanggaan buat kami.

"Malah, dengan pelan penjenamaan semula menjadi Batik Malaysia pada separuh kedua tahun ini, MAX 8 ialah pesawat pertama diterima dalam jenama baharu ini," katanya pada majlis menerima ketibaan pesawat Boeing 737 MAX 8, di Sepang, hari ini.

Hadir sama Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Penerbangan Awam (DCA), Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman dan Pengasas Bersama Lion Group Rusdi Kirana.

Penerbangan sulung pesawat berkapasiti 180 tempat duduk itu berlepas ke Singapura dari KLIA, pada 10.30 pagi, dan dijangka mendarat di Lapangan Terbang Changi, pada 11.30 pagi.

Sumber: Harian Metro Online | 22 Mei 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

MAS flying in reinforcements

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) expects to finalise its plans to lease aircraft from a third party, most probably Italian national carrier Alitalia, within four weeks.

Its chief executive officer Peter Bellew told NST Business the national carrier was talking to several aircraft lessors and airlines worldwide on securing a leasing deal.

MAS is actively looking for aircraft to lease as part of its short-term plan to keep up with the rising demand of passenger travel while awaiting new plane deliveries.

“We expect a decision to go ahead or not go ahead in the next four weeks. We will only go ahead if we get the right financial deal,” he said in an email reply yesterday.

MAS is keeping its options open, although Bellew has expressed interest to lease up to eight wide-body Airbus A330-200 from financially-struggling Alitalia.

He said the Alitalia planes were recently refitted with a nice configuration of 20 business-class, 17 premium-economy and 219 economy seats.

“I would prefer 26-plus business (seats) but the current layout would be fine for regional use if the price was right,” said Bellew, adding that the A330s had a flight duration of up to 14 hours.

Any leases would quickly increase number of business-class seats as the demand for those seats on MAS flights was surprisingly high, he added.

Alitalia, which was declared bankrupt last month, is going through special administration proceedings, which could result in another bailout from the Italian government, a sale or a complete shutdown.

The airline operates 14 A330-200 aircraft, which are all leased from various lessors which include Castlelake Aviation, Apollo Aviation Group, Intrepid Aviation, Air Lease Corp, MD Aviation Capital, A.P.C Aircraft Purchase Co, Aergo Capital and its equity partner Etihad Airways.

Bellew said MAS had contact with all except two lessors involved, which he did not name.

However, Alitalia may survive another bankruptcy as Bellew said the airline could continue operations as a medium-long- haul carrier.

“I think now that Alitalia will survive as a long-haul medium- haul airline and will need these aircraft (A330-200) for the long term. I could be wrong, of course, but that is my opinion,” said Bellew.

Sources in the aviation industry said MAS was also talking to aircraft lessors and airlines from the Middle East as part of its options to secure planes for short-term.

“There are many grounded planes in the Middle East. Most of them belong to airlines that are based there.

“MAS could possibly get a good leasing deal from them,” said the sources.

Malaysia Airlines Bhd chief executive officer Peter Bellew says the airline will only go ahead with the aircraft leasing plan if it gets the right financial deal.

Although details of the discussions are kept secured, commercial aircraft leasing companies in the Middle East are growing to rival the likes of China-based aircraft lessors such as BOC Aviation.

But ultimately, Bellew said, MAS would be buying new planes in the next few years.

The national airline made a comeback last year after two unfortunate disasters involving Flight MH370 and MH17 in 2014.

Bellew said the MAS brand remained strong as passengers, travel agents and the public had returned to the airline after it worked tirelessly from last year to re-engage with them.

In the first quarter of this year, MAS’s overall load factor increased by 12.9 per cent year-on-year to 3.6 million passengers.

Source: New Straits Times | Business | 18 May 2017

Firefly on track to hit 2017 target

GEORGE TOWN: Having recorded close to 500,000 passengers in the first four months of this year, premium short-haul carrier Firefly, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, is on track to meet its target of carrying between 1.25 million and 1.3 million passengers this year.

“We are doing more than 100,000 a month now and on track to achieve the target.

“This is despite Firefly having taken out six aircraft from its previous fleet of 18 and cutting three non-profitable routes,” said its chief executive officer Ignatius Ong at a media gathering, here, on Wednesday.

Last year, the airline carried 1.2 million passengers in 18 aircraft. It stopped three direct flights to Koh Samui, Krabi and Medan from Penang at the end of last year.

Ong said Firefly’s 92 per cent on-time performance rating last year and the first four months of this year made it a better choice for air travellers compared with other airlines.

He said coupled with numerous measures in place, the airline’s load factor increased to about 70 per cent from more than 50 per cent last year.

Ong said the increase in operational costs, on the back of a softer ringgit, had hit the group badly.

“However, our zero wastage measure to cope with rising costs has done us some good,” he added.

Ong said Firefly had also introduced several value-added services to combat competition, such as the FY c-wallet for corporate travellers and the FY e-wallet, a loyalty programme for frequent flyers where consumers can buy credits with 20 per cent extra reward. Other services include an online store as well as travel and auto insurance.

Source: New Straits Times | 5 May 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Leasing option for Malaysia Airlines as demand rises

Chief executive officer Peter Bellew (pic) said a decision on the type of aircraft will be made by the end of June. (Malaysia Airlines will take delivery of the first of six new A350-XWB aircraft by year-end.)
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd will lease a dozen second-hand wide-body aircraft from now till the end of 2019 while waiting for new aircraft deliveries, as it does not have enough capacity to serve nine key routes across Asia.

Chief executive officer Peter Bellew said a decision on the type of aircraft will be made by the end of June.

He said passenger loads were rising and demand for the airline’s services, including business class, was growing.

“We just don’t have enough capacity, so we are looking at six wide-body A330 for 2018 and six more in 2019. The nine routes are across Japan, Taiwan, China, India and Indonesia,” Bellew said.

In the longer term, till 2023, we would need 30 to 35 wide-body aircraft,” he said.

The airline will take delivery of the first of six new A350-XWB aircraft by year-end, which will be used to replace the A380 superjumbos that will be converted to cater to haj flights under a plan named “Project Hope”. The haj flights will begin at the end of the year.

The airline has also ordered 25 of the new B737-Max 8 planes, with delivery deadlines starting from the end of 2019. However, with Boeing facing engine issues, there could be delays in the delivery.

“The biggest challenge is the lack of business class seats, as we have seen a 90% increase in bookings over the last nine months. Wide-body planes will have lie-flat beds and twin aisle, which gives great comfort,” he said.

“This will allow us to grow sensibly with minimum risk on existing routes with a high degree of certainly and success,” he said.

The airline shrunk its route network after being hit by two major air disasters in 2014, but now wants to grow market share across Asia. While the airline was shrinking its network three years ago, rivals were building up inventories of new aircraft that could compete on lower operating costs and higher fuel efficiencies than the age-old guzzlers. It takes three to four years to get a new aircraft, but that also depends on the model picked.

Experts believe Malaysia Airlines will need to finalise a new fleet and replacement strategy fast, as the airline’s rivals in the region have the latest planes fitted with the latest livery. There will also be a need to invest in on-board entertainment and food offerings to stay ahead of the competition.

An aviation expert pointed out that a number of the MAS aircraft were “old and tired” and needed to be replaced.

“We would need to build the fleet by 2023 close to 30 to 35 wide-body aircraft. We will also need to replace some of the older A330 from 2019 onwards,” Bellew said.

He said the airline was evaluating whether to acquire Airbus A330-neos or B787s in the wide-body aircraft category for replacement and growth. This will be for delivery from 2019 onwards.

He added that the B787 had greater distance potential, while the A330-neos were in production, but there would not be any more orders of the A350 aircraft.

While waiting for these planes to be delivered, Bellew said the airline would lease. MAS currently operates 77 jets.

Instead of forking out huge amounts of cash for the planes, the airline has opted for a leasing arrangement for them, meaning that it will get the new planes but the leasing company will own them. MAS will not be burdened with having to raise cash to buy planes.

On passenger loads and market share, he said the airline had seen a stark recovery on its KL-London-KL route with loads of around 80% in the first quarter.

“Forward bookings over the next six months are also encouraging, up 31% from the same time last year,” he added.

He said targeted and aggressive sales campaigns led to much better loads. Marketing campaigns were kick-started in August and September last year after a lull period focusing on the all-inclusive value fares offered with no hidden extras.

On the overall load factor, Bellew said “it was looking very good with quarter one passenger count increasing double digits by 12.9% year-on-year to 3.6 million passengers”.

“There is a very aggressive price war in the Malaysian domestic market, particularly for flights in Peninsular Malaysia and to Kuching. MAS is not dropping our prices, but will focus on our quality,” he pointed out.

Source: The Star | Business | 15 May 2017

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Malindo to be renamed Batik Air

BATIK Air is going to be the new name for Malindo Air. This will come into effect in the second half of this year, but everything else will remain the same.

The rationale behind the branding change is to better align the offerings within Indonesia’s Lion Air Group stable of airlines to ensure there is seamless full service travel domestically and internationally.

“The feeder traffic from Lion Air group is not much now but the dynamics will change with Batik Air in the second half of this year,’’ Malindo Air CEO Chandran Rama Muthy says.

“We, Malindo Air (Batik Air Malaysia) will be the international link within the Lion Air group while the existing Batik Air Indonesia will continue to serve the Indonesian market and it is a full service carrier. We will promote Batik Air Malaysia brand across the 16 countries we operated in, and this will be a boost to our country, heritage and culture,’’ Chandran says.

The Lion Air Group controls Lion Air, Wings Air, Batik Air (Indonesia), Lion Bizjet, Malaysia’s Malindo Air, and Thailand’s Thai Lion Air. Malindo is 49% owned by Lion Group, controlled by Rusdi Kirana and his brother, and the remaining 51% is held predominately held by Chandran.

For a long time Indonesian carriers were banned from flying into Europe but that ban has since been lifted. Instead of Batik Air Indonesia flying all over the globe, the group has Malindo for its Asian connectivity, and the latter is now in the final stages of sealing a code share arrangement with a Middle East airline, which will give it global access to several markets.

Cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Rome, New York, Chicago, Rio De Janerio, Cape Town, and many others will be within reach once the code share is inked.

The idea is to keep the traffic flying within the group and code share partners.

Chandran is looking at several code share arrangements over the coming months and years as that is the only way the airline can grow its traffic profile and at the same time serve the market which needs connectivity.

No doubt Malaysia Airlines also has several code share arrangements and is member of oneworld alliance but choices are what the travelling public needs.

Malindo now offers interlining services to four airlines - Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways.

It is hoping to end up with 30 such arrangements by the end of next year and this year it will add 10 more. “We have a big dream and by 2018 we would have 30 interline partners and several code-shares and our passengers traffic should be more than 10 million by then,’’ he adds.

Today Malindo boasts of 240 daily departures both from its bases in Subang and KLIA.

But back in 2013 when it started, not many believed this airline would pass the test of time. Many predicted that it would collapse soon after it took off.

But Malindo has proved its sceptics wrong up till now and is one of the fastest growing airlines globally given the spate of route openings and aircraft deliveries.

Last year it took deliveries of about ten new aircraft and this year it has taken deliveries of three. It expects seven more, adding to its current fleet of 45 currently. It will add five to seven new destinations to its existing list of 43 destinations.

“It is just growing and the pace has made people notice the airline,’’ says an industry observer.

One of the factors that had pushed it forward was due to Malaysia Airlines’ two major air disasters. While Malaysia Airlines shrunk its network, Malindo grew and capitalised on full service offering market.

Lower jet fuel prices and the move from klia2 to KLIA helped it reduce cost and price its fares appropriately to capitalise on the growth.

Malindo airfares are not like those low cost carriers as they do not charge for baggage and offer entertainment and meals onboard.

Malindo ended its first year carrying 900,000 passengers, and ended 2016 with 5.6 million. This year Chandran reckons the numbers will reach eight million.

From renting a small premises at Subang, it has bought over four floors in a building for RM16mil to house its operations, also in Subang. It has dedicated one floor for training purposes.

By June it will also be introducing the electronic flight bag for its crew so as to do away with paper.

For a company that does not own aircraft assets, it does not have to fork out big sums to buy aircraft. Instead it has operational leases with Lion Group at what Chandran says are at “market rates.’’

Is Malindo profitable? “We are looking positive,’’ he says but will not elaborate. On whether Malindo would ever be listed, he says “let’s focus on making it profitable before dreaming of an IPO’’.

Source: The Star | Business | 13 May 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Govt has allocated RM80m for Sandakan airport runway extension project: Najib

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is briefed on the Sandakan Airport runway extension project, by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (R), on May 7, 2017.
SANDAKAN: The government has allocated RM80 million for the Sandakan Airport runway extension project which will get underway by the middle of this year, said Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

The Prime Minister said the decision to extend the airport's runway was made outside of what were scheduled in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

He said it was made based on his meeting with tourism industry players in this district during his walkabout in Harbour Square Sandakan on March 3.

"They asked for the runway to be extended to enable bigger aircraft to land particularly for direct flights from China, South Korea, Japan and major cities.

"I immediately contacted the Transport Minister (Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai) and approved this project and am launching it during my visit to Sandakan again today," he said when launching the project at the Sandakan Airport.

The upgrading work involves extending the runway from 2,134m to 2,500m.

Najib said the contractor who upgraded the Sandakan Airport terminal will undertake the project to extend the runway.

The prime minister described the project as important to the efforts to boost the tourism sector in the district, thus uplifting the people's economy.

He said the presence of more tourists would increase the number of people staying in hotels in this district as well as nearby areas as well as promote eco-tourism.

Najib said the project was in line with his commitment to ensure that Sabah progresses like the states in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said Sabah held big potential and what the state needed was infrastructure development for its people.

The Prime Minister also urged the people, especially in the state, to continue supporting the government so as to ensure continuity of the efforts to develop the nation.

As such, he said, the people should not be duped by the lies of the opposition parties who want to instigate and confuse them.

Source: Bernama | 7 May 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Malaysia Airlines eyes another 26 routes in 2018, says CEO

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (2nd L) poses with Malaysia Airlines Berhad Chief Executive Officer Peter Bellew (R), as Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai (L) and Malaysia Airlines Berhad chairman Md Nor Md Yusof (2nd R) looks on during a Malaysia Airlines promotional event in Putrajaya today.
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), which is on the road to recovery, plans to add 26 additional routes to its list of destinations in 2018, says Chief Executive Officer Peter Bellew.

In evaluating the potential routes, he said the national carrier has invited all major airports in ASEAN, Australia and India to meet in Kuala Lumpur in the coming weeks to negotiate the routes and promote tourism here.

Bellew added that Malaysia Airlines would commence 11 new routes this year, the most number of routes to be introduced in a single year in the airline''s history.

"We see an increase in customers in Asia, particularly from China, Australia and India, although there is a fall in the number of travellers to Europe and the United States".

Our business on the international front is tremendously good and strong.

We are searching for bigger aircraft right now. We are trying to find five, six or seven more wide-bodied aircraft for use next year, he told reporters after MAB pledged its participation in the ''Negaraku'' initiative here today.

Without elaborating, Bellew added that MAB was also looking at employing more pilots, crew and engineers towards the end of the year.

Source: Bernama | 3 May 2017