Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will become a full member of oneworld from 1 February 2013, the airline alliance has revealed.
The national carrier initially agreed to join oneworld in June 2011, and with sponsor airline Qantas having completed a review of its readiness, MAS has now received clearance to become a full member. The alliance said that while its implementation programme is on track for completion in the coming weeks, the airline’s full integration into oneworld is being held back until the beginning of 2013 “to avoid the end-of-year holiday season and for other administrative reasons”. As such, the actual joining date has been set at 1 February 2013.
The addition of MAS will substantially expand the oneworld network in Southeast Asia, adding 14 destinations and one country – Brunei – to the alliance’s route map. In total, the membership of MAS will expand oneworld’s global coverage to 840 destinations in 156 countries, served by some 9,000 daily departures. Add oneworld’s other members elect – Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines – and this network reaches to 856 destinations in 159 countries.
“oneworld membership represents one of the most significant achievements to date for Malaysia Airlines,” said the airline’s Group CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. “It will strengthen our competitive position considerably, enabling our customers to enjoy a truly global network together with our partners who include some of the best and biggest airlines in the world, while enabling us also to tap into all the financial benefits that come from being part of a global alliance, through additional passenger feed and cost reduction opportunities. We are very pleased and proud to join what is clearly the world’s top quality airline grouping on 1 February.”
oneworld’s CEO Bruce Ashby called MAS an “ideal candidate” for the alliance, saying its membership would “greatly enhance oneworld’s offering throughout one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel”.
The finalisation of MAS’ membership will come as a relief to both parties. oneworld had previously suffered the ignominy of having to shelve Kingfisher Airlines’ membership due to the Indian carrier’s financial collapse, and similar problems at MAS threatened to derail its application. MAS suffered its largest ever net loss of MYR2.52 billion (US$820m) in 2011, causing it to embark on a major route and fleet realignment strategy. It also pulled out of a deal with oneworld sponsor Qantas to launch a new Southeast Asian carrier.
But the airline has since been boosted by the arrival of new aircraft, including its first Airbus A380s, and has relaunched several routes. In the second quarter of 2012, the airline’s operating loss narrowed 77%, with Yahya stating that the turnaround plan is “already showing… [an] improvement in yield and lower operating expenses”.