-  Saturday 15 August 2020

    MAS-Air France meeting on SkyTeam

    PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) managing director Idris Jala is expected to meet top executives of Air France next week to seek support for the national carrier's entry into the SkyTeam global alliance. Talk of MAS joining a global alliance has been circulating for a long time and finally things appear to be moving in that direction. There are three main global air alliances, Star Alliance, OneWorld and SkyTeam.

    SkyTeam was formed in 2000 and currently has nine members – Aeromexico, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, CSA Czech Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air and Northwest Airlines. The group has 684 destinations in 133 countries.

    MAS is the only regional airline that has yet to enter any global alliance and this has been due to its problems in the past. Its rivals, Singapore Airlines and Thai International Airways, are members of Star Alliance while Cathay Pacific is part of OneWorld.

    Given Jala’s plan for a “hub and spoke” concept, a global alliance would help MAS as the airline would not need to fly so many unprofitable routes and yet offer the connectivity globally. A global alliance enables members to ride on one another’s network to provide seamless connectivity to passengers and this saves cost for an airline.

    MAS reported a RM1.26bil loss but, with an extensive business turnaround plan announced by Jala early this week, the airline should be on the flight to recovery by next year. During his presentation, Jala said MAS had too many destinations in Europe and that would in future be served via “hub and spoke” concept. MAS now flies to 10 points in Europe –London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Rome, Istanbul, Zurich and Manchester.

    Sources said although the network nationalisation had yet to be finalised, early signs pointed to MAS flying to only three of the 10 destinations while the balance seven would be served via its “hub and spoke” concept. Of the three, London tops the list with one of the highest load factors. The second point is Amsterdam and the third may be Paris–Frankfurt or another point in Germany.

    Industry observers also feel that SkyTeam needs a strong partner in the region that can link all its members with the right frequency and spread of routes. Although one can argue that Korean Air is a member which also serves the region, MAS’ spread of routes and frequency are unmatched, according to the observers.

    “While MAS may now be keen to become a member of SkyTeam, it is a question of whether SkyTeam welcomes MAS and that is what Jala is about to find out when he meets Air France's top executives,” a source said.


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