India emerges as Malaysia Airlines’ biggest market

Monday, July 17, 2023


India has become Malaysia Airlines’ largest market in the world, ahead of Australia, and the airline is adding both more flights and more destinations as it expects supply demand to continue to surge.

The Malaysian government-backed full-service airline recently increased the number of weekly flights to India to 55, with plans to increase to 60 weekly flights by the end of this year, executives said.

Ying Mei Lau, Malaysia Airlines’ group chief marketing and customer experience officer, told FE that business in India is already more than 90% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

“If we launch 60 flights, we will reach the 2019 numbers. When the pandemic started to subside, India had the most encouraging recovery we have seen so far.”

The company currently covers six destinations – Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi, and three more destinations – Trichy and Trivandrum – will be added in the coming months.

The capacity that Malaysia Airlines already operates in India is more than double that of the airline’s capacity in China, the world’s second largest aviation market.

India’s aviation market, the world’s third-largest, has soared, surprising many, on the back of the country’s rapid economic recovery after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

“India is your biggest market in the world. Before COVID-19, it was in the top three. Australia was number one, but the intensity of growth that the Indian market is showing is higher than Australia at the moment. Mr Lau added.

India’s top six airlines, including IndiGo, Air India and Vistara, recorded a load factor of over 90% in May, highlighting the pent-up demand in the market.

Load factor percentage defines the average number of occupied seats over a specified period of time. This is the first time this phenomenon has occurred in Japan in many years.

According to data shared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Malaysia Airlines served 225,000 passengers in the January-March period.

The company ranked among the top 10 foreign airlines in the country based on the number of passengers carried.

According to DGCA data, Indian airlines served 63.6 million passengers between January and May, registering a 36% increase compared to 46.73 million passengers in the same period last year.

Market players claim that India’s growth is better than most other large economies.

Malaysia Airlines operates a mix of different types of aircraft, including the Airbus A350, A330, and Boeing 737, totaling 100 aircraft.

The company has ordered 45 more such commercial jets, with deliveries expected to begin in August and continue through 2025.

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