Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will drop flights to Brisbane and reduce frequencies other Australian ports from the start of August in the latest round of network changes as part of the airline’s transformation plan.
The oneworld alliance member will cease operations to the Queensland capital from August 08, ending a daily service currently operated by Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
Meanwhile, MAS’s Kuala Lumpur-Perth offering will be cut to a daily service, from 12 times a week currently, Melbourne and Sydney will be reduced from three times a day to twice a day, respectively, and Adelaide will be trimmed to four times a week. All changes were due to take place from the beginning of August.
“Malaysia Airlines has revised its flight network in Australia to focus on profitable destinations and services as part of the restructuring program that owner Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign fund, commenced last year,” a MAS spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
“Malaysia Airlines regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers as a result of these changes and assures that customers holding tickets to and from Brisbane will be eligible for a refund or re-accommodated on alternative flights.”
MAS is the second airline to withdraw from Brisbane in recent times, after Garuda Indonesia dropped its Brisbane-Denpasar service in January.
The Airline Route website also reported service reductions on other parts of MAS’s Asian network, with frequency cuts to Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Manila, Siem Reap, Taipei and Yangon. And the airline’s daily flight to Male has been cancelled.
New MAS chief executive Christoph Muller has been tasked with turning around the ailing carrier, which has suffered heavy financial losses in recent years and faced a double tragedy in 2014, when MH370 disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on the way from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital.
In addition to other recent frequency cuts – for example service to Frankfurt ended in May – MAS was looking to offload at least two if its six-strong fleet of Airbus A380s and dispose of other excess aircraft in a bid to return to profitability.
MAS has issued termination notices to 6,000 of the airline’s 20,000 staff, with the remaining 14,000 offered jobs as part of a rebranded “new” airline due to take flight on September 1.
Mueller acknowledged recently MAS was currently “too big”.
“But we are working on that,” Mueller told delegates at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting on June 8.
The new MAS chief executive also raised the prospect of a new hybrid product when the airline relaunched in September, with a full-service offering on business heavy destinations and a more limited service for more leisure-oriented markets.
“One thing I can say we will not offer full-service offering to markets where they seek only safe transportation from A to B,” Muller said. “As opposed to markets where we fly four and a half hours on short-haul flights and everybody wants to have a warm meal and is prepared to pay for it.”
“So you may call us a hybrid model, in fact. We will serve the markets that we find. Demand is very individualised.”
For example, Mueller said the airline could sell a business class ticket but allow passengers to opt out of access to the airline’s airport lounges or the ability to earn frequent flyer points.
While Mueller told delegates there was “some interest” in two of MAS’s A380s, he declined to offer any details.