Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has described as encouraging recent statistics which showed the airline is growing passenger numbers into and out of Australia.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) figures showed MAS carried 127,719 passengers between Kuala Lumpur and its Australian ports Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in February, up 7.8 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
The airline, which is the Australian market’s eighth largest international carrier by passengers carried, increased its market share to 4.8 per cent in February, from 4.7 per cent in the prior corresponding period.
While MAS regional senior vice president PK Lee said the figures were pleasing, he stressed there was more work to do.
“This is our main market outside of Malaysia and connecting our continents is our ultimate goal,” Lee said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We have been flying in and out of Australia for more than 40 years and are committed to helping this region build closer ties with Asia for mutual benefit.”
MAS suffered two tragedies in 2014, with the disappearance of MH370 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and the shooting down of MH17 when over Ukraine on the way from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital.
The airline is also in the middle of a painful restructuring program that was expected to result 6,000 jobs losses – representing about 30 per cent of its workforce – in addition to the withdrawal of long-haul routes and the disposal of excess aircraft in a bid to turnaround recent heavy losses.
Leeham News and Comment reported on April 30 MAS was offering for sale or lease its six Airbus A380s, as well as six freighter aircraft and a number of other widebodies.
In response to the report, new MAS chief executive Christoph Muller said the airline was exploring fleet options to enhance the viability of long haul routes, adding it was just one area that was currently being looked at.
“As such, recent speculations on the airline offering some of its fleet for sale or lease is too premature when nothing concrete has been achieved,” Muller said in a statement.
“MAS needs to operate and utilize its fleet at an optimum level besides maximizing revenue on the route it flies. The market needs to give Malaysia Airlines room to explore various options in determining the most viable strategy.”
MAS operates about 80 flights a week into Australia with a combination of Boeing 777-200ER and Airbus A330s.
The airline has boosted its presence in Australia through not just a strong schedule of flights, MAS has also signed up Malaysian-born, Adelaide-based television chef and cookbook author Poh Ling Yeow to design a signature dish served on board flights Down Under and lent its support to rising local tennis star Nick Kyrgios, whose mother was born in Malaysia.