Malaysia Airlines Eyes Indian Expansion with Deep Codeshare Pact

Expressing optimism about the significant Indian aviation market, Malaysia Airlines is set to establish a comprehensive codeshare partnership with an Indian carrier and extend its operations to both northeastern and southern destinations in the country, as per a senior official. Malaysia Airlines, a key player in the Malaysia Aviation Group, currently runs 69 weekly flights to nine Indian cities. Captain Izham Ismail, the Group Managing Director, emphasized in an interview, "India holds strategic importance for us, and we aspire to contribute to India's success story."

The airline, which has implemented a financial restructuring and is on the revival path, connects nine Indian destinations to Malaysia. The cities are Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Amritsar, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram. Apart from crossing its pre-pandemic levels of operations in the Indian market, the carrier, this month, increased its frequency on the Amritsar-Kuala Lumpur route from two to four weekly flights. Currently, the airline has an interline partnership with Vistara.

An interline arrangement refers to a pact to issue and accept tickets for flights that are operated by the partner airline. When selling an interline ticket, the operating airlines' own flight numbers are used. 'We are at the tail-end of negotiations with one particular airline... Malaysia Airlines is working on having a deep codeshare with an Indian airline,' Ismail, who was on a visit to India last week, said.

Codesharing enables an airline to reserve seats for its passengers on partner carriers, ensuring a seamless travel experience to various destinations. Discussing the forthcoming strategies for the Indian market, Ismail indicated that Malaysia Airlines has plans for the northeast in the next two to three years, specifically considering flights to Guwahati and Kolkata. While the airline previously operated flights to Kolkata before discontinuing the service in 2015, it is now optimistic about resuming operations in these regions following the acquisition of new Boeing 737-8s and Airbus 330 neos. With a current fleet of 100 planes, Malaysia Airlines anticipates increasing this number to 170 by the year 2030.

'We believe very strongly that where possible we want to upgrade our services to India using wide-bodies,' he said, adding that his ambition for the group is to treat customers with empathy, humility and respect. Ismail also emphasised that cabin services as well as market share are important. India is one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world and domestic airlines are expanding their fleets as well as operations. "In 2015, our market share was 12 percent in Malaysia and South East Asia. Today, we are commanding a 25 percent market share. I am very cognizant of competition. We hope to continue to grow in India in the next two to three years", he said. Overall, Ismail said the aim is to make Malaysia Airlines among the top 10 global airlines globally and the top 5 in the Asia Pacific region.

Highlighting the paramount importance of the Customer Value Proposition (CVP), he emphasized the airline's strong commitment to enhancing its products and cabin comfort. Ensuring top-notch in-flight dining is particularly crucial in a diverse market like India. Recently, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia projected a doubling of annual domestic air passenger traffic to approximately 300 million by 2030. With this anticipated figure, India's aviation penetration is expected to reach 10-15 percent, presenting a significant and enduring market for the decades ahead, as stated by the Minister last week.