Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines have announced plans to explore areas of cooperation covering both carriers and their subsidiaries.
The two carriers said in a joint statement on Thursday they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to “significantly step up co-operative ties” and consider a wide-ranging strategic partnership that built on an existing codeshare agreement that covered flights between Malaysia and Singapore.
Areas of cooperation being considered included expanding codesharing beyond Singapore-Malaysia routes, frequent flyer enhancements, cargo and maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong said there were signifiant growth opportunities for both carriers.
“We are proud to announce this MOU to expand the scope of our cooperation, increase global connectivity for Malaysia and Singapore, and enhance our service offerings for our customers,” Goh said.
The two airlines have a shared history as they were established after the governments of Malaysia and Singapore decided to shut down Malaysia-Singapore Airlines in 1972 in favour of setting up their own national carriers.
The MOU covered Singapore Airlines’ regional wing SilkAir and low-cost carrier (LCC) Scoot, as well as Malaysia Airlines’ sister carrier FireFly.
The joint statement said the airlines’ hoped to finalise a formal agreement “in the coming months”.
Further, any cooperation was also subject to regulatory approvals.
Malaysia Airlines chief executive Captain Izham Ismail noted there has always been strong commercial and culture links with Singapore Airlines.
“My team and I are extremely pleased to be able to build on that close relationship even further, this time across many areas of both airlines’ ecosystems,” Captain Izham said.
“Via this partnership, we look forward to adding more value to the customer proposition.”
Both carriers have significant operations into Australia.
Malaysia Airlines serves five destinations, while the combined Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot network covers nine destinations.
Figures from the Australian government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) showed Singapore Airlines was Australia’s largest foreign carrier in calendar 2018, flying eight per cent of all travellers into and out of the country. Malaysia Airlines was outside the top 10.
It is the second MOU Malaysia Airlines has signed in recent times.
At the end of May, Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines said they had submitted an application to the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism seeking approval for a joint-business agreement covering flights between Malaysia and Japan.