Emirates & Malaysia’s Intriguing New Partnership

Filed Under: Emirates, Malaysia

Malaysia Airlines has been massively struggling for the past several years. They were already performing poorly before last year, but after the crash of MH370 and MH17 just months apart, the airline was in a dire state.

Fortunately Malaysia Airlines is under the leadership of Christoph Mueller since earlier this year. Mueller turned around Aer Lingus previously, and plans to do the same with Malaysia. He’s about as tough of a turnaround leader as you can hope for, and Malaysia Airlines has already made some radical changes under his leadership:


The airline is still a ways from being profitable long term, as they don’t really uniquely serve many markets outside of Kuala Lumpur. While they obviously have some strength in their home market, they aren’t otherwise really competitive globally, given their limited route network. Fortunately they have a solution.

Emirates and Malaysia Airlines have just announced a new partnership which could help further point Malaysia in the right direction:

Malaysia Airlines and Emirates today announced a new partnership that will give their customers a seamless international network connecting Malaysia to more than 90 destinations on the Emirates network across Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas, exclusive frequent flyer benefits and world-class travel experiences.


This is a brilliant idea, as Malaysia transforms into a regional carrier. Rather than having people book elsewhere, they can try to direct as many passengers onto Emirates as possible, which has a truly global reach. Here are more details on their codeshare plans:

Under the agreement signed by Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark and Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller, Malaysia Airlines will add its code on flights of Emirates to Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas. In return, Emirates will add its code on flights of Malaysia Airlines to domestic routes in Malaysia, South East Asia and selective cities across the Asia Pacific region. The codeshare will be implemented progressively throughout 2016 subject to regulatory approvals.

With the Emirates partnership, Malaysia Airlines’ customers will have access to 38 European, 15 Americas and 38 destinations in the Middle East and Africa and Indian Ocean, whilst Emirates’ customers will have access to Malaysia Airlines’ extensive Asia Pacific network with up to 300 daily departures in the region. Sales under this codeshare agreement will commence from February 1 2016.

Malaysia will more or less be codesharing with Emirates globally, while Emirates will be codesharing with Malaysia regionally, presumably mostly to destinations they don’t serve (which there are tons of in Southeast Asia). That’s one area where Malaysia really is strong, as they have 737s which serve markets that Cathay Pacific, Singapore, etc., can’t feasibly serve.


Perhaps most exciting are the benefits frequent flyers will be getting out of this. They’re not being very clear about what the new benefits are yet, but per an email sent to Malaysia Enrich members:

We will be unveiling the exciting benefits of the Emirates and Malaysia Airlines Frequent Flyer Programme soon, which will offer you, expanded opportunities to earn and redeem miles and points to all parts of the world.

So it looks like Malaysia Enrich members may soon be able to redeem their miles for showers at 37,000 feet. I’ll be curious to see the details of this, though any additional options to redeem miles on Emirates are good news, in my opinion!


Bottom line

On the surface this seems like a brilliant business decision on Malaysia’s part. They’ll be able to route passengers onto Emirates who might otherwise fly other airlines, while Emirates can route regional traffic onto Malaysia, as Malaysia has a truly extensive route network regionally. Emirates has 4x daily flights to Kuala Lumpur (including soon on the 615 seat two cabin A380), and over time I imagine that could expand. That’s a lot of potential connecting traffic for Malaysia!

What do you make of the new partnership between Emirates and Malaysia?

  1. You say that another redemption option for Emirates award tickets are good news. I disagree, it is good news for Malaysia’s members but bad for the rest of us since there is more “competition” for those seats.

    Nonetheless, good news for Malaysia.

  2. You forgot to mention that Malaysia is also ending service to Amsterdam and Paris from January 2016.

    Also, to the guy above, stop stealing my style! =)

  3. Yes, exciting indeed. If it’s anything like its existing award chart, expect 500,000 miles for a first class ticket.

  4. As this alliance follows my home country’s flag carrier QF & EK’s extensive and very deep JV, and QF and MH are both in OneWorld, I wonder ergo whether this is a mark of portent that EK may eventually enter OneWorld? I know as most of us already do that it’s highly unlikely for a number of reasons, but one can always live in hope, can’t one?

  5. Or is this the beginning of a fourth alliance group, EK, QF, MH, AS, B6, plus pick off one of the smaller European airlines, and you have an alliance.

  6. Unless things change, MH has one of the worst award charts.

    But if EK is allowed 5th freedom from KUL or anywhere in Malaysia (like EK in Australia to NZ), it might make EK even more interesting.

    One idea I have for EK out of KUL for 5th freedom – KUL to HNL. (Don’t think EK have a way to reach Hawaii at the moment despite their vast network, and nothing from KUL to HNL direct at all.. )

  7. I, too, am not a big fan of the MH award chart. However, does MH really need Emirates that badly? Isn’t MH a member of oneworld?!?

  8. I’m probably wrong about this but I would have thought Malyasia Airlines would have been more successful flying long haul with the a380s and 777s because of all the competition in south east Asia with the many ultra low cost carriers there.

  9. Up till today, there is no news on the codesharing or even the airmiles program. Makes one wonder if EK need MH more, or the other way around.

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