KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 18 – Malaysian Airlines (MAS) is halfway through its RM6 billion restructuring exercise which is likely to be completed in five years’ time. MAS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Bellew said the national carrier was working hard to cut costs, realign its fleet and expand routes.
“For the last eight months, we have been trying to sell a lot of tickets and get the brand name back out there publicly all over the world,” he said in a special interview programme with BNC’s Mikhail Raj Abdullah aired over Astro CH502, Hyppy TV, and MYTV, and posted on www.bernama.com.
The restructuring plan was put into place in 2015 during the time of his predecessor, Christoph Mueller. Bellew took over as MAS CEO on July 1, 2016, after Mueller left, citing personal reasons. “We have been trying to develop new routes to China and here domestically within Malaysia. But most importantly, we want to put a bit of the pride back in the name and the brand of Malaysia Airlines,” he said.
Bellew said the airline, for many years, had been the symbol of pride and progression for the country. “People liked the name Malaysia Airlines, they liked the brand, they liked the ‘wau’ (MAS kite logo) and everything else about it. So, we promoted the brand really hard everywhere and the many engagements we had with the media worked out very well. Our passenger numbers recovered dramatically in the second half of the year,” he said.
Bellew said the airlines’ current workforce is at 14,000 and it has started hiring people again. “We have a certain lack of skills in the Information technology and digital area, so we are hiring about 100 people to work in the new Digital Innovation Centre that we are building at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport beside the terminal,” he said.
On MAS’s route expansion, Bellew said following the purchase of new aircraft, MAS has opened up 11 new routes to China this year and resumed its flights to Europe. “Four of the flights to China are already in operation and we are currently operating two Airbus A380 to London with 2,000 seats daily,” he said.
Bellew said China is the growth story for global tourism while MAS is experiencing a huge recovery in its business to London. “It is estimated that over the next 10 years, 12% of China’s population will own passports and that’s 150 million additional Chinese who are a potential market for Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines.
“Meanwhile, on the London sector, our business this time last year was quite poor. We were actually operating 500-seat planes with 60 and 70 people on board but it dramatically recovered. Last May, we went from having 45% of the market between London and Kuala Lumpur to over 60%,” he said. — Bernama