Should Malaysia Airlines Increase Frequency To China?

My colleagues and I just came back from a trip to Guangzhou from Kuala Lumpur. We flew AirAsia because they had far more flights and a better schedule.

Both the flights there and back were completely full, on very cramped A320 Neo aircraft. Especially the return was very uncomfortable, we left at 10pm and arrived back in Kuala Lumpur at 2am. It was impossible to sleep because of insufficient leg room, no headrests, and limited seat recline.

There is obviously tremendous demand for flights since China has opened up, yet Malaysia Airlines appears to only fly to Guangzhou once a day.

Consequently their airfare is far higher than it was pre-covid, in some cases being double what AirAsia charges. A similar story might apply to other destinations as well, like Hong Kong for example. The 737 should not be flying on such a premium route when Cathay Pacific uses A330.

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-200.
The A330 Malaysia Airlines uses is a great differentiator, being twin aisle and with much more generous legroom. Their other advantage is that they use the Kuala Lumpur main terminal. Why don’t Malaysia Airlines add additional A330 flights to meet demand and reduce their fares to about 20-30% above AirAsia to fill up the planes. I for one would gladly pay 20-30% for the better comfort Malaysia Airlines would offer, plus Oneworld mileage points.

Or maybe I don’t understand the economics of the A330 vs A320 Neo.

With 268 economy seats in Malaysia Airlines vs 186 in AirAsia, and the addition of 19 business class seats on Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia Airlines should be able to earn more revenue than AirAsia. But costs are probably far lower on AirAsia.

Retired American Airlines Airbus A330-200.

If there is a shortage of A330 aircraft in Malaysia Airlines’ fleet, American Airlines has just retired a number of A330 aircraft which might be available.

Malaysia Airlines can differentiate and offer a much better product with the A330, providing they don’t expect people to pay double for the privilege.

Yours sincerely,

Harro Koopmans
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