MAS overhaul: travel trade reaction mixed

MALAYSIAN travel experts whom TTG Asia e-Daily spoke to offered differing opinions on Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) strategy to rebuild its loss-making operations.

The flag carrier is attempting to turn around a RM1.25 billion (US$392 million) loss for the first three quarters of 2011, by streamlining its network, spinning off a new premium Asian carrier, and winning back customers through the gradual revamp of its fleet (TTG Asia e-Daily, December 8).

GrandLotus Travel Agencies director, K. Thangavelu, said: “There is a war out there and in such a situation there is a need to fight. What we are seeing (with MAS’ plan) is a withdrawal.”

Thangavelu added: “Regular top management changes – four in the last five years – have been a disaster for the airline. None of them had indepth knowledge on managing an airline. The (MAS) strategy is to bring in a new person, test him and hope he can do a good job.”

With regards to the new premium Asian carrier, Thangavelu said MAS already had MASwings, Firefly and a partnership with AirAsia. “What exactly is a new airline going to offer?” he questioned.

In contrast, Travecheq Travel managing director Jenny L Shahbudin fully supported MAS’s decision to pull out from loss-making routes and concentrate on profitable alternatives, especially in Asia.

“Asia-Pacific is the region of the 21st century,” she said.

When asked if new aircraft would drive more of her customers to fly with MAS, Shahbudin explained that travellers were hesitant to splurge at the moment.

She added: “Sometime the cheapest travel deal may not be the best. If they can afford it, they will look for quality.”

In a related development, Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) deputy president John Tan welcomed MAS group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya’s promise that he would meet with MATTA representatives on a regular basis.

“I hope (Ahmad Jauhari) keeps his word. We would like him to meet us at least two to three times a year,” said Tan.

“Matters we would like to discuss are ticketing issues including procedures and problems, direction for the airline and progress being made, and service-related issues.”

By N. Nithiyananthan

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