Malaysia Airlines is targeting a return to pre-pandemic levels of operation in the Indian market by the end of this year. With plans to expand capacity and capitalize on India’s strong economic prospects, the airline aims to reintroduce flights to Hyderabad and explore routes to cities like Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvananthapuram, and Pondicherry said Izham Ismail, the Group Chief Executive Officer.

In an exclusive interview with businessline, the aviation group chief said that Malaysia Airlines is setting its sights on the thriving Indian market, with plans to expand its capacity and seize opportunities presented by the country’s robust economic prospects.

The airline aims to bolster its presence in India, with Ismail remarking, “We’re looking at achieving close to 100 per cent capacity in the Indian market by the end of this year.” Currently, Malaysia Airlines operates 55 weekly flights from major Indian cities, including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kochi. Ismail emphasized the importance of India as a key market for inbound traffic, particularly from Australia and New Zealand, which the airline actively promotes.

Ismail acknowledged the challenges faced by the Asia Pacific region, including India, in recovering to pre-pandemic levels. While North America has already regained its capacity, Asia Pacific is still grappling with a slow reopening of Chinese borders, resulting in a significant 40 per cent deficit in international connectivity compared to 2019 levels. However, Ismail was quick to point out that India stands out as a highly intriguing market due to its robust and rapid economic growth, which is aligned with its current GDP and Consumer Price Index (CPI) index.

Ismail’s optimism stems from the healthy growth of India’s GDP and CPI index, as he stated, “We feel very strongly that with a healthy growth of GDP and India, the CPI index is encouraging.” He further emphasized that India holds significant potential, enabling foreign airlines like Malaysia Airlines to gain leverage in the market.

On IndiGo partnership

Despite acknowledging the presence of well-established Indian airlines and ongoing mergers, Ismail expressed enthusiasm for partnering with IndiGo and participating in India’s remarkable growth trajectory. “IndiGo is a fantastic partner to us as well, and we are excited to see India and we want to be part of that growth in India,” he affirmed.

Looking ahead, Ismail anticipates a gradual reduction in losses for the airline industry in 2023, with hopes that 2024 will be a better year for most carriers. While achieving break-even in 2023 may be challenging for most Asia Pacific players, Malaysia Airlines remains committed to the Indian market and foresees a positive trajectory for its operations.

In conclusion, Malaysia Airlines sees India as a strategically vital market, with plans to expand its capacity and enhance its presence. With its focus on India’s promising economic growth, the airline aims to leverage the market’s potential to drive its own expansion and establish strong partnerships with Indian carriers. The airline remains dedicated to being part of India’s recovery, development, and the aviation industry’s overall growth.