(MAS) is increasing services on some routes to Asian and U.S. destinations, a move that comes after it dramatically scaled back its services to Europe and the Middle East.
MAS says it is increasing services from Kuala Lumpur to Manila, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Bangkok, Medan and Jakarta in Indonesia, Beijing, Taipei, and Los Angeles. Most of the increases in frequency come into effect on March 25.
The move comes after MAS announced in December that it would be axing eight international routes in January and February. Destinations being dropped Buenos Aires, Damman, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Karachi, Surabaya, Indonesia, and Rome.
Services to Europe have experienced falling passenger demand due to the economic problems there, while the Middle East market has proven tough for MAS because of the stiff competition from Emirates and other Middle East carriers.
MAS has been losing money and now thatGroup CEO Tony Fernandes is a shareholder, the airline has undergone a restructuring and management shake-out. On Dec. 30, MAS’s new CEO Ahmad Jauhari, who joined the carrier in September, announced that several senior executives were leaving the carrier “to pursue other career opportunities” and that some new people had been hired.
The new hires include Hugh Dunleavy, who is joining MAS to lead network, alliance, strategy & planning. Dunleavy was previously executive VP of strategy and planning at Canadian carrier WestJet Airlines. The other high-profile hire is Shihaj Kutty, who was previously head of pricing atand will lead revenue management at MAS.
Those leaving MAS include Roslan Ismail, head of MAS Engineering & Maintenance, Shahari Sulaiman, head of MASkargo, and Sharifah Kamaruddin, MAS senior VP revenue management. Roslan was employed at MAS for most of his career and worked his way up from the airline maintenance shopfloor to senior management. MAS Engineering & Maintenance is considered to be one of the major maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) firms in the region but despite this, it still relies largely on MAS for work. One of the challenges the MRO firm faces is generating more third-party work and finding a way to work with AirAsia in the future.
In August, AirAsia and MAS signed a collaboration agreement that included MRO work. Roslan told Aviation Week last month that his firm is certified to do heavy checks onand , the mainstay of AirAsia’s fleet, and that the company had been working to win over AirAsia. But he said no contracts had been signed yet because MAS group’s collaboration agreement with AirAsia was waiting for approval from antitrust regulators. Another issue the two parties have to contend with is that AirAsia may already be locked into long-term contracts with other MRO service providers, he added.
Industry executives say AirAsia’s Fernandes has been driving many of the changes at MAS. Fernandes and his business partner in AirAsia, Kamarudin Meranun, together own a little over 20% of the airline.
The departure of MASkargo’s chief is also notable. MASkargo has always been touted as a success story because, unlike MAS’s passenger business, it is consistently profitable. In recent times it has shifted its strategy by focusing on intra-Asian traffic withA330 freighters, and scaled back its operations to Europe which largely used -200Fs on wet-lease. Industry executives say that even though MASkargo may have reported profits in recent years, it is always hard to determine whether a cargo outfit linked to a passenger airline is truly profitable. This because so many of the cargo operation’s costs can be transferred to the passenger business, they add.