Malaysia Airlines has a new hand at the helm who has pledged to raise the bar and fix the airline.
“We will fix it,” new chief executive Peter Bellew declared, adding “I am sure it will be a road with many interesting turns.”
Bellew has become yet another Irishman to run an international airline. The skill of the Irish at such tasks is remarkable. Alan Joyce of Qantas is a prominent example. Willie Walsh, who runs British Airways parent IAG is another – not to mention Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.
Bellew, who has been the chief operations officer of Malaysian Airline System since 1 September 2015, was director of flight operations at Ryanair.
Before joining Malaysia Airlines, Bellew lived with his family near Killarney, Northern Ireland.
At Malaysia Airlines he succeeds Christoph Mueller. Mueller, renowned as an airline turnaround wizard resigned on 10 March 2016, citing “personal circumstances”.
Here’s Bellew’s stirring statement on taking his new role:
Malaysia Airlines has seen great progress in the last 10 months with many turnaround initiatives working. Our first quarter showed performance indicators on track with yield up 23.4%, costs down by 32.9% and our bottom line ahead of budget.
Our Going Forward plan will see Malaysia Airlines remain focused on the turnaround with key emphasis on these specific areas:
The goal will be to fly customers safely to places they want to go with great value fares and superior service on clean modern aircraft. We will stop doing things that lose money. We will rebuild our relationships with the travel trade globally. We will lead a worldwide marketing initiative promoting the wonders of Malaysia. We will start new routes from various Malaysian airports to new unserved Asean destinations.
A new website, mobile app, trade reservations system and airport equipment will all be in place over the next twelve months. The digital experience when booking with Malaysian Airlines will see significant investment in 2016/17. From choice of seats to quality of the nasi lemak to time of travel, we need to ensure that the needs of each guest with different individual preferences are met.
Our costs are on track now however we cannot for one second take our eye off the ball. We have already seen fuel savings of 10,000 tonnes in the first quarter but more can be done. Saving money, does not mean compromising on safety or on our products and services. It simply means we need to increase productivity and efficiency, invest in modern technology, enter into mutually beneficial partnerships besides identifying and mitigating risks early.
Airport costs will be an immediate focus and we are planning to operate some leisure flights from Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 in 2017 where costs are MYR 33 (USD 8.25) per passenger lower or MYR 5412 (USD 1350) per flight lower. On one daily flight this simple saving will be MYR 1,975,380 or USD 500,000 per annum. We will pass on these savings to customers with lower fares. Each and every cost of everything we do will be minutely checked daily without changing any quality.
We know the complexities of our business but our customers simply want great service. They expect us to be on time, serve great food, have generous baggage allowances and safely operate clean modern aircraft. And that’s just exactly what we will do.
We need to raise the bar to ensure that our commitment towards meeting customers’ expectations is met by all staff across the Group.
A lot has been done, the profit seen in the last quarter shows that the financial gap between revenue and cost has significantly closed, which tells us that we are on the right trajectory. We need to move quicker and more aggressively to keep the momentum for a strong, sustainable future.
We have 14,000 aviation professionals working for Malaysian Airlines, wonderful people who are incredible ambassadors for Malaysian hospitality. They have shown remarkable resilience and are the rock that we will build a successful airline on. I will work to ensure we have a large group of Malaysian nationals trained in the next three years who are capable of leading the airline through 2030.
I am excited to get to work, leading this proud airline and ensuring the national carrier regains its rightful place as the pride of the nation. We will fix it. Malaysia Boleh!
Written by Peter Needham