The competitive dynamics of the Asia-Pacific airline industry are shifting this year, as some of the region’s major players look to strengthen their positions by increasing their cooperation with other carriers. Among the strategic partnerships that have emerged or expanded this year are those between Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) and Japan Airlines (JAL); MAB and Singapore Airlines (SIA).
Recent moves involving MAB are particularly significant, as the carrier is looking to new strategic partnerships as a key plank in its revised turnaround plan.
Shifting Dynamics of the Asian Airline Industry
MAB and SIA signed a memorandum to enhance the partnership between the two airline groups on June 27.
While few details have been revealed, the carriers say they will expand existing codeshare arrangements between the two countries. The Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route is one of the world’s busiest international city pairs. The airlines may also add codesharing beyond the Singapore-Malaysia market, and other potential cooperation could include cargo and maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
MAB and JAL applied for permission to enter a joint business agreement in April, and regulators are still considering their proposal. While the two airlines already codeshare, they want to form a metal-neutral operation on routes between their respective countries, and have signaled their cooperation could be expanded to other markets and areas of business.
According to MAB CEO Ismail Izham, one of the most important elements of the partnership will be knowledge sharing, noting that JAL went through a major bankruptcy restructuring and recovery effort, and MAB will be able to draw on the lessons learned by the Japanese carrier.
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