Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) formerly known as Malaysian Airline System (MAS), branded as Malaysia Airlines, is an airline operating flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and from secondary hubs in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching to destinations throughout Asia, Oceania and Europe. Malaysia Airlines is the flag carrier of Malaysia and a member of the oneworld airline alliance. The company headquarters are located at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
In August 2014, the Malaysian government’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, which then owned 69.37% of the airline announced its intention to purchase remaining ownership from minority shareholders and de-list the airline from Malaysia’s stock exchange, thereby renationalising the airline.
Malaysia Airlines owns two subsidiary airlines: Firefly and MASwings. Firefly operates scheduled flights from its two home bases Penang International Airport and Subang International Airport. The airline focuses on tertiary cities. MASwings focuses on inter-Borneo flights. Malaysia Airlines has a freighter fleet operated by sister company MASkargo, which manages freighter flights and aircraft cargo-hold capacity for all Malaysia Airlines’ passenger flights.
Malaysia Airlines traces its history to Malayan Airways Limited, which was founded in Singapore in the 1930s and flew its first commercial flight in 1947. It was then renamed as Malaysian Airways after the formation of the Malaysia in 1963. In 1966, after the separation of Singapore, the airline was renamed Malaysia–Singapore Airlines (MSA), before its assets were divided in 1972 to form two separate national airlines Malaysian Airline System (MAS, since renamed as Malaysia Airlines) and Singapore Airlines.
Despite numerous awards from the aviation industry, being crowned “The World’s 5-Star Airline” by Skytrax multiple times (2009, 2012 and 2013) and recognition from the World Travel Awards as Asia’s Leading Airline (2010, 2011 and 2013), the airline struggled to cut costs to cope with the rise of low-cost carriers in the region since the early 2000s. In 2013 the airline initiated a turnaround plan after large losses beginning in 2011 and cut routes to prominent, but unprofitable, long-haul destinations, such as the Americas (Los Angeles and Buenos Aires) and South Africa. Malaysia Airlines also began an internal restructuring and intended to sell units such as engineering and pilot training.
Before the introduction of the Business Turnaround Plan in 2006, Malaysia Airlines operated 118 domestic routes within Malaysia and 114 international routes across six continents. Under the Business Turnaround Plan, numerous routes were axed and frequencies reduced. Among these routes are Manchester, Vienna, Fukuoka, Chengdu, Nagoya, Xi’an, Cairo, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Zürich. Malaysia Airlines became the first airline in Southeast Asia to fly to South Africa, following the demise of apartheid, and was the only airline in Southeast Asia that served South America via South Africa until 2012. Prior the MH17 and MH370’s crashes, it had further suspended services to Cape Town, Rome, Dammam, Karachi, Surabaya, Johannesburg and Los Angeles. After the removal of the destinations such as Istanbul, Male, Amsterdam, Paris, Brisbane (resumed June 2018), Frankfurt, Kunming, Krabi and Kochi (resumed March 2019), London is the only one left for the European destination, particularly with the strong presence of the Airbus A350 and the Heathrow Terminal 4.
As of March 2017, Malaysia Airlines flies to 57 destinations across Southeast Asia, North and South Asia, the Middle East, Australia and Europe. Its primary hub is Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It has a particularly strong presence in the Southeast Asia region, which, together with its subsidiaries MASWings and Firefly, connects Kuala Lumpur to the most destinations in Borneo. Apart from that, the airline has a key role in the Kangaroo Route, on which the airline provides onward connecting flights from main European gateways to major Australian and New Zealand gateways via Kuala Lumpur, within 5 hours.
Malaysia Airlines also owns its own charter flight division. Malaysia Airlines’ charter flights have flown to destinations around the world, such as Guilin, which was previously one of Malaysia Airlines’ scheduled destinations, and Christmas Island. Malaysia Airlines has also been the official airline for the Manchester United Asian Tour It also has a substantial Hajj operation.
Photo supplied by: Malaysia Airlines Facebook