By Staff Correspondent
In an unprecedented shift, India has outpaced Australia as the largest market for Malaysia Airlines, prompting the carrier to expand its operations in the subcontinent with increased flight frequencies and the introduction of new routes.
The state-backed full-service Malaysian carrier is boosting its weekly flights to India from 55 to a targeted 60 by year’s end, a senior official disclosed.
Group Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer Yin May Lau relayed that the carrier’s India operations have rebounded above 90% of pre-Covid volumes. “With the addition of 60 flights, we will return to our 2019 performance levels,” Lau commented. She observed that India’s recovery, as pandemic restrictions eased, was among the most promising the airline had witnessed.
Malaysia Airlines flies to six Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. Plans are underway to incorporate Puducherry, Trichy, and Trivandrum into its expanding route network.
Remarkably, Malaysia Airlines’ operational capacity in India now more than doubles that in China, the world’s second-largest aviation market.
Bucking expectations, India’s aviation sector, the third-largest globally, has experienced a dramatic rebound following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, a recovery underpinned by a robust surge in the national economy.
Lau highlighted the significant growth in the Indian market, surpassing Australia to take the top spot globally. “Before Covid-19, India was in our top three markets. The current growth intensity of the Indian market outpaces that of Australia,” Lau stated.
Indian carriers, including IndiGo, Air India, and Vistara, achieved load factors exceeding 90% in May, an unprecedented event that underscored the strong market demand. Load factor, a key industry metric, signifies the average percentage of occupied seats over a period.
During the first quarter, Malaysia Airlines carried 225,000 passengers in India, earning it a spot in the country’s top ten foreign airlines by passenger volume, based on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) data.
The same data indicates that between January and May, Indian airlines served 63.6 million passengers, a 36% increase from the 46.73 million passengers flown over the same period in the previous year. This growth surpasses the figures seen in most other major economies.
In response to these evolving market dynamics, Malaysia Airlines, with a fleet of 100 aircraft comprising Airbus A350, A330, and Boeing 737, has placed additional orders for 45 commercial jets, with deliveries expected to commence in August and extend through to 2025.
“In March, we withdrew from Brisbane and redirected to Dhaka. Post-pandemic, global markets are behaving very differently. We are strategically positioning our inventory where demand is greatest,” Lau added.
She also revealed ongoing talks regarding a potential codeshare partnership with Indian carriers, building on existing interline agreements with Vistara and Air India.