Chinese military exercises delay Malaysia Airline flights
Malaysia Airline System (MAS), commonly known as Malaysia Airlinesis the country’s national airline and a member of the Oneworld alliance. It is one of the most reliable airlines, suffering less delays and cancelations than most. The airline flew its first commercial flights in 1947 as Malaya Airways although the company we know today came about in 1972, shortly after Singapore’s independence, when the airline was split to form MAS and Singapore Airlines. The distinctive company logo is a ‘wau balan’ or moon kite. The main base for operations is Kuala Lumpur International Airport, with a hub at Kota Kinabalu, serving mainly Asian destinations, but with a few routes to North America, Europe and Oceania. Malaysia Airlines has had a perilous financial history, often running at a loss. In January 2014 the company announced that it was cancelling all of its flights to Los Angeles in a bid to cut costs. It blamed over capacity, increasing competition and mounting fuel costs that had made the route economically unviable. However, this was reversed in July the same year when a codeshare with American Airlines provided 260 connections to and from Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK). The airline’s goal is to promote travel between Malaysia and the United States of America, and increase tourist travel to its home country. Trans-Atlantic flights from London, Paris and Frankfurt now also connect with American Airlines at New York (JFK), Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA) and Chicago (ORD).
Flight record for delays
With an average flight delay of a mere 13 minutes, Malaysia Airways has a record that puts it in the top 5% of airlines for reliability, although there are still a significant number of excessively late and delayed arrivals. Over the two month period between 15/06/14 and 15/08/14, for their 20 busiest routes, 80% arrived on time, 9% were late, 3% very late and 5% excessively late, with 1% cancelled (www.flightstats.com). Although the majority of flights are on time, a significant number may be open to claims for compensation due to the length of the delay. In 2014 Malaysian Airways made headlines around the World as it suffered two major aircraft losses, along with all the passengers and crew onboard. The first was the mysterious flight MH370, which vanished on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on the 8th March and the second a few weeks later when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in a case of mistaken identity. The surrounding publicity has hit ticket sales for the airline, particularly in China.
Chinese airspace difficulties cause cancellations and delays
Regular flights through Chinese territory mean that Malaysia Airlines aircraft have to deal with one of the most tightly controlled airspaces in the world, which can sometimes lead to delays and cancellations. Military operations sometimes result in huge areas becoming no-fly zones for civil aircraft, with Chinese military powers taking precedence over passenger’s rights. The official stance is ‘congestion’ in the flight space causing the problems, but this is widely recognized as meaning military maneuvers.
Youngest fleet and other benefits
As at August 2014, Malaysian Airlines has 151 aircraft, made up of Airbus A380’s, A333s and B777s which it uses for long distance routes, B737-800s for shorter, internal flights and ATR72-600s which are the new series turbo-props. Having recently retired their B737-400s, this makes their fleet one of the youngest in operation, which will have an average age of 4.35 years at the end of 2014. Malaysia Airlines has a bonus scheme known as Enrich, which it shares with other Oneworld airlines. New members start at the Blue entry level and can progress through further levels such as Silver, Gold and Platinum as they gain additional points. These different tiers give access to additional privileges, benefits and preferential treatment.