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Malaysia Airlines Remains Optimistic Amid Pandemic

A Malaysia Airlines A350. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Six months into the Coronavirus pandemic, Malaysia Airlines is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. According to New Straits Times, the carrier is going to add 50% of flight capacity with 150 flights daily by the end of the year.

Amhad Luqman Mohd Azmi, the carrier’s Chief Operating Officer, said there were 300 flights per day before the pandemic and the new plan is according to the coronavirus cases in the country.

“However, we are very cautious about adding capacity and frequency as things are very fluid at the moment,” Azmi said.

Azmi expected most countries could lift the travel restrictions by mid-2021 as Malaysia Airlines could operate 70% of its network next year.

Malaysia Airlines is currently providing limited international services to the U.K., Australia, Thailand and Singapore. Malaysia instituted its Movement Control Order (MCO) as a result of the coronavirus outbreak earlier this spring: the move banned foreign tourists from entering the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until the end of 2020.

Since the pandemic began, the airline has demanded its staff take voluntary unpaid leave while executives have taken a 10% salary cut and had their allowances were suspended. Earlier, the government stated that it ruled out the possibility of a bailout package to the airlines, but the Ministry of Finance will help the industry during the pandemic.

However, Malaysia Airlines hasn’t stopped enhancing the services during the pandemic. Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines inked a joint business partnership that will help both carriers enhance their capabilities and allow customers to benefit from more flight choices. Malaysia Airlines also teamed up with Mandarin Oriental to boost domestic travel. Meanwhile, the government is working with the airline to promote travel bubbles as well.

“Our role is to facilitate travel and ensure connectivity is safe,” Azmi said

In addition, COVID-19 has given the airline a chance to carry out better fleet maintenance.

“We are doing repair and maintenance on regular intervals. This includes regular disinfecting the aircraft to ensure safety of all passengers and crew onboard. The crisis provides us an opportunity to refurbish our cabin interior,” the airline said.

In the meantime, the national airline revealed that its cargo services have performed strongly as the utilization of air freighter and passenger aircraft recorded a surge amid the pandemic.

Since the MCO was lifted, Malaysia Airlines has benefitted from surging domestic travel demand even though international travel demand remained weak.

“We have been gradually increasing our flight capacity with the load factor surged almost 500 percent post the Movement Control Order,” Azmi, who is optimistic about domestic travel, said.

Azmi revealed that, from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Penang are the most popular domestic routes at the moment.

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