- Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350-900s have been performing excellently on the London-Kuala Lumpur route, regularly operating with a full cabin.
- The airline is exploring partnerships with other carriers, such as Qatar Airways, to maximize opportunities and spread demand across Europe and the UK.
- The drop in travel restrictions in Malaysia has led to a quick return to pre-COVID schedules, and there is a high demand for flights, potentially requiring the carrier to find new ways to meet requirements in the future.
Malaysia Airlines currently has six Airbus A350-900s in its fleet, which were all delivered between November 2017 and July 2018. With all of these units not even six years old yet, there are plenty of prospects to be had with the type, especially on Malaysia Airlines' flagship route to London.
The right balance
The flag carrier of Malaysia’s UK regional manager, Daniel Bainbridge, explained to Simple Flying that the XWBs have been performing excellently on the double daily service from London Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur International.
The early flight from the capital of the UK arrives in Malaysia the following morning, which is great timing for connections to Australia and across Asia. Meanwhile, the evening departure from Heathrow is seeing robust activity for point-to-point demand to Kuala Lumpur.
As the only carrier that operates from London to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines has had no problem backing in its A350s. In fact, the route’s popularity is often seeing the operation at full capacity.
“Demand has been strong, and getting hold of a seat can sometimes be challenging. We're dealing with things like passengers wanting to waitlist on our services and get onto our flights.
“The A350 is the largest aircraft that we have in the fleet. We've obviously disposed of the A380s that we used to own. We don't have the option for larger aircraft and the slot constraints at Heathrow mean that it's not that easy to get additional capacity. So, we are left trying to optimize the services that we do have as best we can.”
Combined, Malaysia Airlines' A350s provide room for more than 1,700 seats. While the capacity is less than its former A380s' combined 2,900 seats the A350's significantly greater efficiency allows for a better balance.
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To maximize opportunities in the market to Malaysia from across the continents, the airline has been exploring partnerships with other carriers. These collaborations have been key in this post-pandemic boom.”
As Bainbridge explains:
“We've got partnerships with Qatar Airways, and we operate a double daily service from Doha to Kuala Lumpur. We work closely within the confines of the commercial relationship we are able to have with Qatar Airways to encourage feed from across Europe and the UK over Doha and support our service, so we can spread demand that way,
“Certainly from our perspective, it's ensuring that we are selective over the type of traffic that we take from London, whether it's to Malaysia or to Australia, to best optimize the opportunities that are there.”
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In May 2022, Malaysia opened its doors to general tourism after two years following prolonged restrictions due to the pandemic. Simple Flying was on one of the first flights following the drop in restrictions, testing out the A350 in the new era.
The 286 seats are split between 220 economy, 27 extra legroom, 35 business, and four first class seats. Flying in the comfy lie-flat business cabin, there aren't many better ways to spend a 13-hour flight!
Just two months after the dropping of restrictions, Malaysia Airlines restored its pre-COVID schedule to London. It looks like twice-daily isn't enough to meet demand in the current climate. Thus, it won't be a surprise to see the carrier find new ways to adhere to requirements in the coming years.
What are your thoughts about Malaysia Airlines’ operations with the Airbus A350 on intercontinental routes? What do you make of the overall prospects of the aircraft in the carrier’s fleet? Let us know what you think of the airline and the plane in the comment section.
- Malaysia Airlines is keen to upgrade its A330s. Photo: Getty Images
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Kuala Lumpur International Airport
- Year Founded:
- May 1st, 1947
- Izham Ismail