Air passes to be explored in Singapore Air-Malaysia marketing agreement

October 31, 2019
Photo: Changi Airport.

Air passes are tipped to be one of the benefits of a move by Malaysia Airlines Berhad and Singapore Airlines to strengthen their partnership with a sweeping commercial agreement.

The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals from the relevant competition authorities but will allow the national carriers to share revenue on flights between Singapore and Malaysia, expand codeshare routes, and participate in joint marketing activities to develop tourism.

It involves SIA’s subsidiaries SilkAir and Scoot, as well as MAB offshoot Firefly, and comes after a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2019.

One initiative flagged by the airline groups is the potential development of air passes that would enable customers traveling to Malaysia through the Kuala Lumpur and Singapore hubs more choices to visit other parts of the country such as Kuantan, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu on a single ticket.

They envisage providing travelers a “seamless experience of convenience and flexibility while enjoying multi-stop itineraries”.

Assuming it gets approval, the deal will see flights between Singapore and Malaysia — where the airlines compete with low-cost giant AirAsia — operate under a joint business arrangement.

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The companies say they intend to coordinate flight schedules to provide customers with more flight choices and frequencies for passenger convenience.

This includes plans to offer joint fare products, align corporate programs and explore tie-ups between their frequent-flyer programs.

The two airline groups will also expand their codeshare arrangements to include more destinations on each other’s networks.

The current agreement is relatively small and involves flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang.

The expansion would see SIA and SilkAir codeshare on MAB’s domestic flights to 15 destinations in Malaysia.

MAB will progressively codeshare on flights between Singapore and Malaysia, Europe, South Africa and other destinations once necessary approvals are granted.

The carrier groups say the expanded codeshare will be implemented in phases and represents a significant expansion.

Plans are also afoot for joint marketing activities to boost long-haul tourism to Malaysia and Singapore.

“This will be a win-win for both our airline groups, and provide new benefits for our customers. In particular, the expanded scope of our partnership has the potential to provide a significant boost to the tourism industries in both Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the wider Southeast Asia region,” said SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong.

MAB CEO, Captain Izham Ismail said the move was in line with Malaysia Airlines’ long-term business plan goal “of engaging in deep partnerships to extend our reach and presence globally”.

“This partnership is more than a conventional partnership and we believe in the mutual benefits for both airline groups and countries,’’ he said.

The move comes as the Malaysian Government has been looking for a partner willing to take a strategic stake in financially embattled MAB.

The government, which says it expects to make a decision in early 2020, recently revealed that four bidders had shortlisted.

Among the names mentioned in the Malaysian media have been Japan Airlines and China Southern.

Qatar Airways, which has also been mentioned, has said it is not a contender.