Malaysia Airlines Prepares To Scale Back Network

 - July 14, 2015, 9:19 AM
Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A330-300s operate on several international routes from which the carrier plans to cut service.

Malaysia Airlines plans to begin scaling down its international network in August as it proceeds with a restructuring exercise announced last year. Plans call for the cessation of the five-times-weekly Kuala Lumpur-Brisbane service, a cut in the 12-times-weekly service to Perth to a single daily flight and a reduction in the three-times-daily services to Sydney and Melbourne to twice daily. Airbus A330-300s operate on all the routes.

In Asia, MAS plans to downgauge equipment on the daily Boeing 777-200ER service to Hong Kong to a 737-800. Two other daily 737-800 flights currently operated on the route will continue, making it three flights a day. Finally, the airline plans to replace a 777-200ER flown daily to Jeddah with an A330-300.

MAS faces stiff competition from low-cost carrier AirAsia on domestic and regional routes, and from Air Asia X and other full-service carriers on long-range international services. The airline has watched its finances deteriorate since 2010 and fall into deep decline with the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March 2014 and the presumed missile strike of Flight MH17 over Ukrainian airspace four months later.

An MAS official told AIN that the airline will cut capacity further later this year and in 2016.

The reduction in capacity will result in a surplus of pilots and flight attendants, many of whom will lose their jobs as MAS executes plans to reduce its workforce from 20,000 to 14,000 over the next two years. Meanwhile, MAS ground handling and engineering units have spun off as separate entities. The current exercise marks the fifth such restructuring since 2002.

In another development, Turkish Airlines has extended the wet-lease of an MAS A330-200F to 2017. The initial one-year lease ended in June.

MAS’s fleet now consists of six Airbus A380s, 13 Boeing 777-200ERs, 15 Airbus A330-300s, 57 Boeing 737-800s, two Boeing 747-400Fs, four Airbus A330-200Fs (including the one leased to Turkish), 22 ATR 72-500s and nine ATR 72-600s.

The ATR72s are operated by fully owned subsidiaries FireFly and MasWings.