Malaysia Airlines (MAS) next month is withdrawing from the Penang-Medan and the Kuala Lumpur-Macau routes.
These are two routes where it faces stiff competition from low-cost carriers and once again highlights how MAS’ brief attempt last year to mimic low-cost carriers was always doomed to fail.
There is no way MAS can compete if it tries to be like low-cost carriers. Instead it should be clearly differentiating itself against the AirAsia’s of this world by highlighting that MAS is a full-service carrier that offers the customer a far superior level of service.
It will be withdrawing from the Penang-Medan route on 29 March and leaving it to Firefly, Kartika Airlines, Wings Air and Indonesia AirAsia to slug it out. And it will be exiting the Kuala Lumpur-Macau route on 22 March and leaving it to AirAsia.
Letting Firefly take over the low-cost carrier routes is a smart move. Firefly is MAS’ ATR turborop operation. It has a lower cost base than MAS mainline so it better able to compete against low-cost carriers.
I think increasingly we will see MAS adopt a two brand strategy whereby Firefly will be used to encroach on AirAsia’s routes and cap AirAsia’s growth while MAS will cater to the high yielding traffic.
Sound familiar? Maybe the people at Qantas Airways and Jetstar can shed some light on the matter.