Posted Date: Saturday, 2-Mar-2013
PARIS- While Paris is bracing gloom due to France’s poor economic performance, it was all about glamour and glitz during the launching of Malaysia Airlines’ new Airbus A380 in an elegant 19th century mansion, home to the Baccarat Museum. Under the heavy crystal chandeliers and surrounded by neo-rococo paneling, Malaysia Airlines management showed what passengers could expect with the new aircraft.
“The Airbus A380 is an opportunity to showcase a refreshed brand and product on board with higher level of comfort in all classes as well as better service on board. Our aim is to provide interactivity between the guest and our personal to be sure that they get the best possible experience in the sky”, explained during a presentation Hugh Noel Dunleavy, MAS Director of Commercial as well as Huib Gorter, MAS Regional Senior Vice President UK and Europe.
MAS Airbus A380 arrival to Paris occurs at a time of heating competition in the skies between France and Southeast Asia. French national carrier Air France will launch three weekly services from the middle of April out of Paris while Thai Airways International is also switching its current aircraft from Boeing 747 to the Airbus A380 at the end of March.
Will it then be sustainable for Malaysia Airlines to inject 75% more capacity into the French market at a time of recession? “We are very confident that the market will absorb additional capacity. Our load factor currently reaches 85% to and from Paris, especially as Malaysia experiences a boom of French travellers. We are already very satisfied with bookings with the new aircraft, even in business class where we predict at least 50% seats’ occupancy. I must admit that the French travel market has surprisingly shown resilience despite economic slowdown,” added Hugh Noel Dunleavy.
The new on-board product in the A380 will also bring heightened comfort to passengers. In First Class, passengers will enjoy a full-reclining seat converting into the longest bed of any airline at 2.21 meter. In Business class, passengers enjoy a sleeper seat reaching 1.83 meter. Culinary highlights offer regional Malaysian specialties while entertainment programs on board offer in all three classes 76 movies and 170 TV programs. In economy class, the airline also increased the reclining position of the seat at 15.2 cm.
MAS management does not foresee any other European route served with the Airbus A380 for now. “The two strongest routes for now are London and Paris, then comes Amsterdam and Frankfurt. The German market does not seem ready for now to welcome the A380,” added Huib Gorter. However, MAS will also put the A380 into Hong Kong out of Kuala Lumpur.
Talking about future expansion, MAS management is for now committed to consolidate its current European network by building up frequencies and/or capacities. “We do not have any plan to add new destinations. However, we will certainly develop code-share flights or cooperation agreements with our new partners at oneworld. We are members of the alliance since February 1st and they are many options that we now explore together,” said Hugh Noel Dunleavy.