OneWorld Extends Asian Reach with Malaysia On Board

 - February 11, 2013, 1:45 PM
The admission of Malaysian Airlines as a new OneWorld member has extended the geographical reach of the airline alliance into Asia.

OneWorld filled a significant gap in its global network this month with its acceptance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS)–Southeast Asia’s second largest carrier after Singapore Airlines–into the alliance. By the end of this year, OneWorld plans to fill further geographic holes in the Middle East and South Asia with the admission of Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines.

But for MAS itself, membership in OneWorld constituted a key part of its business recovery plan launched at the end of 2011. According to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation, the addition of MAS will boost the stature of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur as a hub and give the airline more incentive to improve its premium products and services.

“The time is right for joining the alliance,” said MAS chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, as the government-owned carrier engages in “aggressively re-fleeting” with a mix of Airbus A330-300s and A380-800s on order, plus some Boeing 737-800s. Yahya wants OneWorld carriers such as British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Japan Air Lines to take advantage of connecting services from MAS’s secondary hubs at Penang and Kota Kinabalu.

Last year, OneWorld withdrew its invitation to India’s Kingfisher Airlines to join the alliance after financial woes forced the carrier to suspend international flights. “We haven’t issued any more invitations…[however], we are looking seriously at a lot of things, and China is one of them,” OneWorld CEO Bruce Ashby told AIN at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur in late January. Ashby said the alliance would consider accepting more carriers from Southeast Asia, citing “no magic number” for airline membership. “What we care about is quality,” he said. However, Ashby dismissed speculation that OneWorld has actively sought to recruit budget carriers. In his view, low-fare carriers would likely find it hard to justify the investment required to offer the standard and scope of service required.


All the best to MAS for joining One World Alliance.

However, the airline world, including the world of airline alliance are evolving and changing all the time. It is questionable how much benefits MAS will gain from being a member. Time will tell.

When a Finnair official was asked if there is any interest in the airline flying into Kuala Lumpur now that MAS is now a OneWorld Alliance member, according to Travel Daily News Asia the official said "“We only fly to destinations which does not mobilize an aircraft for more than 24 hours for a return flight out of Helsinki. And KL is already off the limit,”

Oh really? I do not know what he would say if someone were to ask him then why does Finnair then fly from Helsinki to Singapore ? Moreover, Singapore is 45 mins further south than KL!

Qantas, which helped MAS to join OneWorld, itself has changed its stance in ending its previous arrangements with British Airways and going to bed with non-alliance airline, Emirates. For a time, there was talk that Qantas would have such close relationship with MAS that they were about to start a joint premium airline (Red Q?). When those talks fell through, Qantas just flew away from that courtship with MAS and leaving the Malaysian airline behind, OneWorld Alliance member or not. And still no Qantas flights landing in KL in the near future.

There has also been questions on how happy Cathay Pacific is in its relationship with Qantas.

Please correct me if I am mistaken but I gathered that MAS cannot even take advantage of Japan Airlines or British Airways to use code-share arrangements to serve more North American cities. MAS now only serves Los Angeles, that's it. It cannot do this because of some special anti-trust immunity with American Airlines by JAL and British Airway, so MAS cannot be part of that arrangement. So much for all of them being members of One World Alliance!

And of course, Air Berlin, although it is a OneWorld Alliance member, is now partly owned by Etihad, the latter which has no intention of joining OneWorld, especially since Qatar Airways is joining the Alliance.

H'mm what message would all that bring to Malaysia Airlines about the "cooperation" of other OneWorld Members?

Although there has been rumours of British Airways showing some interest in teaming up with MAS on the Kangaroo Route and also serving Kuala Lumpur after an absence of many years, nothing has yet come of it. If BA actually start landing in KUL, and Finnair does the same, then, one may question how much cooperation and support member airlines give to each other.

I think OneWorld Member airline members should have a frank talk with each other and see how they can relate better with each other, and cooperate better. It would no do if all the alliance do is to accept each other airline's frequent flyer points.

H'mmm, I wonder if MAS management might sometimes think they may have joined the wrong alliance? Would joining Sky-Team have been a better bet? Who knows for sure???

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