HAVING suspended flights in 2001 as global travel slowed following the 9/11 incident, British Airways (BA) will resume direct daily flights from London to Kuala Lumpur from May 27 this year.
Operating the service on a B777-200ER, BA will increase capacity by 219 seats on a route currently monopolised by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which flies twice daily on the London-Kuala Lumpur route using an Airbus A380 with 500 seats.
Saif-ul Haque, CEO of London-based Halcyon Collections, said the BA brand has mileage and will create interest in the destination with marketing and PR efforts to re-establish the route.
He added: “Certain high-end clients of mine are BA fans; they believe in its service, so its re-entry will help prop up business.”
On the other hand, David Carlaw, head of faraway product at Premier Holidays UK, opined that it will be advantageous if BA has codeshare agreements with other airlines for add-ons to other destinations like Penang, Langkawi, Singapore and Thailand, as customers also want to travel beyond Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s inbound travel operators are also upbeat about BA’s return. Arokia Das, senior manager at Luxury Tours Malaysia, said: “Extra capacity and competition on this route will reduce air fares, which is good for the traveller. Traditionally, the UK has been the top inbound European market to Malaysia, and extra capacity gives room for growth for both inbound and outbound travel.
“We plan to strengthen our presence in the UK by setting up a sales office in London in 2H2015 to cover both UK and Germany.”
Diethelm Malaysia managing director, Manfred Kurz, said additional capacity on this direct route will also allow MICE organisers from the UK to bring in bigger groups.
“The weakened ringgit has also made the destination more affordable; we will talk to our partners in the UK to look at new promotions we can do together to further promote Malaysia.”
Likewise, Adam Kamal, CEO, Rakyat Travel, revealed that the company will start looking at opportunities to get a share of the MICE business from the UK and Europe by participating in IMEX and EIBTM.