Malaysia Airlines Launching A380 Flights To Saudi Arabia

There’s nothing here that’s terribly surprising, but on some level I do find the evolution of the Malaysia Airlines A380 to be interesting and odd.

Malaysia Airlines has obviously had a very rough ride the past several years, following their loss of two 777s just weeks apart. The airline was already struggling before, and those accidents exacerbated their problems.

Since then we’ve seen the airline have an inconsistent strategy, to put it mildly, as they went through several CEOs, all with different philosophies.

The airline finally seems to have a bit more of a strategy at the moment, so that’s great.

Over the past year Malaysia Airlines has taken delivery of six Airbus A350 aircraft. These were intended to replace their six Airbus A380 aircraft, which just offered too much capacity for the airline.

But it also seems like their A380 strategy changed even more often than their CEO appointments.

Initially Malaysia Airlines was hoping to sell their A380s, though due to the lack of interest they had to shelve plans for that. Then their plan was to use their six A380s to create a sister business, where they’d wet lease A380s to other carriers on a short term basis, and possibly also use A380s for some Hajj and Umrah charters.

Then as of late last year, Malaysia Airlines’ plan was to keep all six A380s in their fleet, and use them to add seasonal capacity to various destinations. At the moment they’re flying A380s to London, Sydney, and Tokyo.

I’m still not sure I get their strategy, given that they often seem to put A380s on routes with just several weeks notice. If the problem with the A380 is that it offers too much capacity, you’d think they’d want to plan it way in advance, so they could actually try to sell all the seats best they can.

After all, the A350 has 286 seats, which is a significant difference from the 494 seats they have on the A380s.

As noted by @airlineroute, Malaysia Airlines has just revealed their next A380 destination. Malaysia Airlines will begin flying the A380 daily between Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah as of October 28, 2018.

That ~4,300 mile flight will operate with the following schedule:

MH150 Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah departing 3:00PM arriving 7:00PM
MH151 Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur departing 10:00PM arriving 12:00PM (+1 day)

The route is typically flown by a 287 seat Airbus A330, so that represents a significant capacity increase. What makes this even more interesting is that Malaysia Airlines has operated occasional charters to Jeddah with the A380, but now they’re just going to operate their daily service with the plane.

So yeah, I think Malaysia Airlines’ A380 strategy has now come full circle — first they were going to sell the A380s, then they were going to use them to create a separate business for Hajj and Umrah flights, and now they’ll just operate them to Saudi Arabia as part of their main airline, but presumably primarily with the motivation of transporting visitors on their pilgrimage.

I’ll be curious to see what their A380 strategy looks like in a couple of years…

Comments

  1. Unfortunately, the hajj is actually this week, so they’ve missed it. And hajj flights use a separate terminal at Jeddah.

  2. They basically don’t know what to do with them, hence their ad hoc scheduling. Same goes for China Southern and their 5 A380’s. They normally use an A330 on the route PEK AMS, not even a larger B777, but then they swap in an A380 for the summer season. I have heard that they are nowhere near full, but what else can they do with these giants?

  3. Tragic Geographical Freak Error… Malaysia has every characteristic of an African airline. They should leave Oneworld, merge with Air Zimbabwe and form an alliance with Air Algerie, the new Nigerian airline, TAAG and a few others. They should hire Willie Walsh as their CEO, also disgruntled top executives at Air France and the Customer Service Department of Spirit. MAD Magazine could become their in-flight publication.
    Oh, and is Oscar Munoz available these days?

  4. They are going to regret this. This route attracts lost of first time flyers, some of which dont even know how to use a toilet.
    When GA deployed their new 777 to Jeddah they got lots of nasty surprises. And have since then put old planes back on that route.

  5. The days of airlines profiteering from Haj contracts are long gone and even more so for Malaysia, as one doubts that Mahatir is well-disposed to a particularly close relationship with them after the Najib/Saudi billions scandal.
    However, still lots of Saudi tourists in Malaysia, especially families.
    @Ron. I know what you mean; years ago I took a PIA flight , a 747,from Karachi to Islamabad on which 99% of the passengers were NW Frontier folk returning from Haj. Only a 2 hour flight but I’ve never seen anything like it and as for the state of the cabin…..( not pejorative, they were simply unfamiliar with usual protocols for flying).

  6. You said they should plan ahead better: they are putting in place regular flights for next year’s pilgrimage! If they are still in business by then….

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