Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that its new pilgrimage charter airline will commence operations in the third quarter of 2018.
The new subsidiary will utilise the national carrier’s fleet of six Airbus A380s, which will be reconfigured to provide a greater number of seats on the high-volume holy routes.
At present, Malaysia Airlines’ A380s feature just 494 seats in three classes, but this is expected to increase to approximately 700 seats under the new plans.
The airline will focus on providing charter services from Kuala Lumpur to Saudi Arabia, to cater for rising demand for Muslim pilgrims wishing to attend the Hajj and Umrah. But while the new airline will be based in Kuala Lumpur, allowing it to tap into the large Muslim populations in Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines said it expects that “a significant portion” of the airline’s passengers will “originate outside Southeast Asia”.
“The airline will be the world’s first ultra-high capacity value airline. It will offer high quality service with low seat costs to customers worldwide,” the carrier said in a statement.
The formation of the new airline is being made possible by the delivery of Malaysia Airlines’ new fleet of Airbus A350s, which will be deployed on the carrier’s scheduled long-haul routes. The first of these 286-seat twin-aisle jets is scheduled to be delivered in October 2017.
The airline’s CEO, Peter Bellew, also said that the airline is now “seeking more wide-body aircraft on short- to medium-term leases to facilitate growth”.