Bits: fewer Malaysia Airlines Avios options, IHG’s Advent competition, last day of our back-pack competition

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News in brief:

Malaysia Airlines culls European routes in restructuring

It has, of course, been a torrid time for Malaysia Airlines over the last couple of years.

It seems like only yesterday when I was writing articles like this one on Head for Points, where they were celebrating their entry into the oneworld alliance and their A380 service to Heathrow.  The carrier was also opening up other routes to Europe which offered interesting low tax redemption options for your Avios points.

The events of the last year changed all that.  The carrier was forced into a massive restructuring which led to the announcement yesterday.

Malaysia Airlines is effectively handing over all of its long-haul routes to Emirates.  In what is effectively a carbon copy of the Qantas relationship, Malaysia will be dropping its Paris and Amsterdam routes after Christmas, with Frankfurt having already gone.  London will be the only direct service remaining to Europe.

At the same time, Malaysia will codeshare with Emirates on the vast majority of Emirates routes.  Malaysia will now focus on sending passengers to Dubai and then hand them over to Emirates to deliver to their final destination.

As with Qantas, this might lead to the position where a Malaysia Airlines codeshare, operated by Emirates, would allow you to earn British Airways tier points and Avios.  It will not be possible to redeem Avios for the Malaysia Airlines codeshare services flown by Emirates.

This is good news for Malaysia Airlines, allowing it to cut costs and refocus on its routes around Asia.  Given that British Airways has recently launched a Kuala Lumpur service I was a little surprised to see that route reprieved.

As far as I know, Malaysia has still drawn a blank in its plans to sell or lease its fleet of six A380 planes.  With the oil price low, the fuel efficiency benefits of flying such a large aircraft no longer seem to justify – unless you are Emirates – the downside of having to sell so many seats each day.   Malaysia would presumably have tried to get Emirates to take the planes as part of this codeshare deal but seemingly there was no interest.

More details on the restructuring can be found here.

Malaysia Airlines A380

Win prizes daily with IHG’s Advent competition

IHG Rewards Club, the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza / InterContinental etc scheme, has launched an Advent competition which runs until 24th December.

Each day, five people will win a prize from IHG’s merchandise catalogue.

You may not know that IHG has a merchandise catalogue.  You’ll find it here, it is called Exclusively Yours.  The reason I don’t discuss it is that, apart from rare promotions, it is terrible value for your points.

Of course, if they are giving the stuff away, it is a different matter!  You will find the competition here.  You will need to click back to the catalogue as each day you need to look up the price of that particular prize in points.

Slicks 4

Our SLICKS travel backpack competition closes tonight!

If you haven’t entered our competition to win one of two innovative SLICKS travel backpacks, you still have time.  The competition closes at midnight tonight, Friday.

Click here to visit the main competition page where you will find the entry form.  All I need is your email address.

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  1. Malaysia avios redemptions are a little odd in south east asia too. We were recently forced to redeem 2x business and 2x economy for a family of 4 for two flights, while we could get 4 of either class on other flights. I assumed the flight was very busy, but surprisingly the flight we had to split up wasn’t even 10% full – have never been on an emptier plane!
    Perhaps they wanted to force a business redemption for a higher revenue from Avios – but in that case, why not open more seats?

    • When MAS first joined oneworld there as plenty of availability on almost all flights, it was all very easy. Soon after, they changed their approach and on many flights seem to allow just one redemption in economy and one in business. I don’t know what logic they apply to this as a lot of solo travellers are business passengers paying cash. If you are making a points redemption its usually as part of a vacation and travelling with at least one other.

      One interesting feature of MAS is MH Upgrade, buy an economy ticket and you are given the option to bid for an upgrade. You can get a rough idea of the loads from Expertflyer a few days before flying and if looking quiet bid the lowest amount possible.

  2. James67 says:

    I recall reading someplace that MAS lads to London were actuall up 40% over the past year despitethe incidents. Also, my understanding is that only 2 of the 6 a380s wereup for sale or lease. I think EK fly 4 or 5 times to KUL daily so it will be interesting to see whether they drop capacity, get MAS to deply a380s to DXB or whatever. I am wondering if we may now see competitive MAS premium fares into the regions or whether EK will keep a tight reign on pricing.

  3. The reason why the QF/EK tie-up works so well is because there is no way for people in Australia to get to Europe/Africa/ME (the vast majority of EK’s destination) without stopping over somewhere. The QF/EK alliance therefore proceeds along the basis of “If you have to stop, you might as well stop in Dubai”. This allows QF to feed traffic from Australia and New Zealand through Dubai on to onward ports on EK metal.

    The same logic does not apply to MH/EK. If you are not originating in KL, why would you want to first have to fly to KL, then to Dubai, and then on to whatever your final destination is? You might as well fly QR direct from your SE Asian port of origin (SIN, HKG, CGK…) to Doha and then change to your onward destination. The tie up is equally unattractive to Kangaroo route pax – why would someone originating in SYD fly SYD-KUL-DXB-(Europe) when they could under the existing QF/EK alliance just fly SYD-DXB-(Europe)?

    • Maybe MH could be trying to restructure as a primarily regional airline. KL’s location towards the bottom of the Indochina Peninsula means it’s still a decent transit point between Australia/NZ and SE Asian destinations. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a dog-leg for European travellers compared to (say) Bangkok – or of course the Middle East – so maybe they’re not losing much traffic heading that way, only traffic to Australia and New Zealand.

      It’ll be interesting to see if any flights from elsewhere in Malaysia – Kota Kinabalu on Borneo springs to mind – open up to Dubai to take better advantage of this new alliance and reduce reliance on connections in KLIA.

    • James67 says:

      I agree any more than one change is a pain, however, EK are still getting something: access to MAS catchment area customer base. The latter far exceeds anything QR can offer on its own. It’s true TG, SQ and CX cover much of the same catchment but not exactly, and they cannot offer so many connections into ME, African and European regions as EK can. Besides the ME3 have akready won the battle for the Y cabin versus the traditional flag carriers. From my standpoint this looks like another win for EK anf it’ll help MAS through a bad spell too.

  4. darrenf says:

    Losing CDG-KUL is a shame, as it comes in just under 6500mi and therefore a cheaper redemption band than from LHR.

  5. Jonathan says:

    OT question: looking to use the 2:1 BA voucher on a LON – BGI, MIA – LON.

    I see you can use it for open jaw flights (by ringing BA), but does an open jaw need to return to the same airport? I.e. If I were to fly out of LGW and into LHR would this work with the voucher? Also as the same transaction could add on a cash BGI – MIA? The cash price for the whole round trip is good value as it’s with One world, but suspect a one-off single fare BGI – MIA wouldn’t be as sensible.

    • My niece has just booked almost exactly that itinerary except JFK with 241

    • I don’t believe the different London airports should be an issue.

      Unlikely that you would be able to include the BGI-MIA leg on the same booking. You can only use the 2for1 on BA operated flights, and only a return trip (open jaw included). You also can’t just pull out a single leg from a wider itinerary and expect the cash fare basis to be the same – you won’t see the price for each leg separated out anyway.

      So you’re not losing anything by booking it separately, and that gives you the flexibility to go cash fare or redemption as necessary. Avios redemptions on AA for this sort of thing are often quite attractive and in good supply.

  6. I think there is 3 EK flights per day out of KLIA, with at least one using an A380 and EK were MAS biggest competitor flying west, if you can’t beat them join them. KLIA is a big airport, and rather quiet as it never turned into the hub that was hoped for I can’t see EK wanting other routes into Malaysia from DXB such as Kota Kinabalu as there just isn’t the demand and besides this is where MAS are to come in and service the regions.

    On one hand it looks a clever strategic move by MAS, but shrinking into a regional airline where your main competition is Air Asia seems risky. Then new KLIA2 terminal for LCCs is actually quite good (better than a lot of western airports) and Air Asia and Malindo (who even offer business class) offer a very good service which can be half the price of MAS.

  7. Why does MH need to restructure? Are people afraid to fly them because of two incidents that happened within an abnormally short amount of time, one of which was definitely not their fault, the other unknown?

    • Fundamentally, yes. Pretty much their entire customer base in fact.

    • Think they were losing money and getting a whipping in their domestic markets for a long time before those crashes happened – it may be that the accidents were the tipping point for those providing ongoing financing.

      Which is a shame, as an airline their product is pretty good, not in the class of SQ/CX/ME3 but better than BA (IMO).

      No surprise they kept LHR-KUL, it’s like the crown jewel of their network, particularly before BA muscled in and even with their downturn must still be a cash cow considering the onward connections.

    • Even before the 2 incidents MAS were in deep financial trouble. They had made various restructuring attempts in the past, after a previous cost cutting exercise they ended up with more employees than before! The previous cost cutting saw them SPEND money in all sorts of strange ways including revamping their lounges, which made them worse, they rebranded their aircraft but never finished it. Their A380s have a different branding completely, and on a recent trip into KLIA I was able to count all 4 different aircraft liveries they had on the go (granted they retain one aircraft with their original livery for nostalgia). They should never have ordered the A380s and cut back when it came to fitting the cabins out and didn’t take the chance to include a premium economy. For a while they ran an A380 on the KUL to HKG route, a very busy route with lots of aircraft already operating.

      Meanwhile Emirates were flying more and more planes into KLIA and Air Asia were squeezing them on the regional market with brand new aircraft and a great efficient service (you can even pre-order a hot meal online for about £1.50).

      The irony is a lot of people in Malaysia think BA Club World is the place to be, and yet the MAS A380 Business class is far better.

      • RIccati says:

        Having read that,

        There is a lack of value in SE Asia travel on flag carriers. It is a struggle to find tickets on BKK-SIN or HKG under £300, lets not mention further destinations. I am talking about flag carriers, not lowcosters.

        MAS was usually the cheapest with a transit at KLIA but still I am not sure about economics: why the average price for an +- 3hrs flight in SE Asia is £300 and not £100-200 fares we regularly see for same-length European flights. Costs must be less in Asia, so unless inefficiencies are involved, SEA airlines must be earning good profits in the regional market.

        (Intra-Thai travel on TG can be cheap and so is intra-Indonesian travel, despite the population density).

        • RIccati says:

          the average price is at least £300, but figures of £400-£600 not uncommon for flag carriers on SIN-BKK, SIN-HKG, BKK-HKG and reverse.

          • just had a look, Air Asia, BKK – HKG for £90 return in March 2016. Thats before adding on bags, seat reservations and meals! But, still possible to book for just £90 return, can’t imagine Thai or Cathay offering that, or even wanting to.

        • A year ago MAS were doing promo fares out of BKK for business class. It was possible to book a BKK – KUL – HKG return, for about £300 return, and you were free to stopover in KUL. Cabins were regional business class and lots of availability.

          In terms of profitable flights, based to ticket costs versus expenditure, then yes you would think in the local markets flag carriers would be doing well and yet MAS were cancelling a lot of regional flights in the summer as being ‘tech’ and putting the passengers on the next flight. So perhaps an oversupply.

  8. OT – can I earn BA avios/tier points on emirates operated flights with Qantas code share flight number?

  9. You shouldn’t be too surprised at their LHR route being retained, even though it bleeds money. It’s their flagship route and too many Malaysian government officials rely on it to get cheap flights to London with free upgrades (although Christoph Mueller is trying to put a stop to it).

  10. O/T bit, slightly tongue in cheek lol

    Last time I used the statement credit @ Argos, I had reason to get a refund.

    I kept the statement credit, though 🙂

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Yes – that works – I did exactly the same at FatFace. I genuinely wanted to return the item but the statement credit stuck…

  11. Guy Andrews says:

    Managed to snag an Avios redemption on the A380 to KL – was the only one in First Class (it was a Wednesday) .

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