‘We expect 80% load factor for India’

Lau Yin May, Group Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer, Malaysia Airlines, believes that if the facility of Visa on Arrival is introduced for Indian nationals, it will help Malaysia Tourism. She discusses the airlines’ expansion plans and new products for passengers.

Hazel Jain

What kind of potential does India offer to Malaysia Airlines?

India has always been an important market for Malaysia Airlines. There is a strong demand in India to travel again leading us to increase frequencies, reinstate routes and upgrade to wide-body aircraft on certain routes. With COVID-19 in the endemic stage, millennial travellers in India are becoming more enthusiastic about their vacation plans with many looking at an international holiday at short-haul destinations. This is ideal considering we currently operate direct flights to five cities in India and will increase to six by the year end, especially as we are also witnessing strong demand from India for onwards travel across our network in ASEAN, and Australia.

What is the kind of load factors you see today?

For our India market, we are currently operating 31 weekly flights from five major cities in India, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai. Current load factor for the market has been encouraging with up to 70 per cent load factor on these flights and forecasted to go up to 80 per cent by the end of 2022.

Are you looking at increasing frequency or flights to India?

Yes, we are gradually increasing our frequencies and network as we aim to achieve more than 70 per cent of pre-COVID-19 capacity for domestic and international travel by the end of 2022. By December 2022, we will ramp up the weekly flights on the existing routes from India and also reinstate weekly flights from Kochi (COK), which will increase our overall weekly flights from India to 52.

There are talks of easing visa process for Indian nationals and introduce VoA for visitors arriving directly from India. How can this catapult the numbers from India into Malaysia?

The introduction of Visa on Arrival (VoA) will not only make it easier for Indian tourists to travel to Malaysia, but also contribute to our tourism growth, footfall and receipts. This is a good opportunity for us to tap into. With the VoA, the last-minute impromptu travel demand to short-haul destinations like Malaysia can also be captured.

Tell us about your partnership with TAFI for their convention in Malaysia?

Since its inception, TAFI has shown true commitment towards creating a more evolved and stable environment for the travel industry. We were delighted to be the official carrier for TAFI Convention 2022 and fly over 420 agents from across India to Kuching, Sarawak. We are excited to establish deeper and meaningful partnerships with travel agents.

How will the TAFI convention help Malaysia leverage India’s potential?

Our travel agents play a key role in supporting the recovery of the sector, and we truly appreciate the great lengths they have taken, especially as travel demands continue to soar. India has always been an important market for Malaysia Airlines, and we are hopeful that through this association and convention, our agent partners would be encouraged to promote Malaysia Airlines to their customers. The TAFI convention provides a good platform to create that first-hand experience and showcase the airline’s offerings as well as the destination product; it facilitated the buyer-seller face to face interactions to create new products and selling opportunities.

Any new developments from Malaysia Airlines that you would like to share?

We introduced the Journify platform for customers to easily discover new places, plan their trips and shop local favourites; all on one single platform. We have also made significant enhancements to Enrich, which has transformed from a conventional frequent flyer programme to a holistic travel and lifestyle programme through which members can conveniently earn and redeem Enrich Points on credit card points conversions, hotel stays, and retail spend with a host of lifestyle partners, among others. This makes it a more attractive offer for members.

We have also introduced the MH Group Bookings portal, which offers the convenience of direct booking, prompt responses to all queries, end to end automation, optimised travel experience and much more for those travelling with a group of more than 10. To encourage corporate travel, we have introduced programmes such as MHBiz Pro and MHBiz Plus. MHbiz Pro is designed for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporates. Another programme that provides greater customisation to a company’s travel requirements with more benefits is MHbiz Plus.

 

 

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