MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) is optimistic of maintaining the high load factor for London-Kuala Lumpur (KL) route although it is now deploying a bigger aircraft, the A380, for the sector amid the gloomy eurozone's economic outlook.
He sees 2013 as an excellent year for MAS in Europe as the A380 aircraft will enhance MAS brand.
"Despite bigger aircraft, we expect the load factor in 2013 to be maintained at high 80 per cent," Gorter told visiting media from Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei here two weeks ago.
The media visit was organised by MAS in conjunction with the start of its double daily A380 aircraft flight for London-KL-London route, effective November 24. With the existing four A380s, MAS is now flying two flights a day for the route, with a capacity of 494 seats per flight.
With the introduction of the A380 services, MAS has now ceased the 359-seater B747-400 flight operations between Kuala Lumpur and London.
Gorter said when MAS introduced the A380 into its fleet in July this year, there was 22 per cent rise in passenger load from London to KL. MAS is the only direct flight servicing London-KL route.
He said the UK is MAS biggest market in Europe, commanding 35 per cent of total passengers, followed by France (20 per cent), Holland and Germany (15 per cent each) and the rest, other European countries
The UK is also where most of Malaysian students are studying. There are currently about 12,000 Malaysian students in the UK.
"We have strategic partnership with Tourism Malaysia as the government wants to increase travellers to Malaysia," he said.
Gorter added that MAS, being a network carrier with a hub in Kuala Lumpur, also helps tourist arrivals in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, MAS sales manager for the UK (southern region) Anton Grossmann expects MAS to weather the current economic situation in the UK.
"The economic outlook is not good in the UK as the government is talking about the increase in VAT (value added tax) from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, so there'll be less disposable income.
"But, we have to be optimistic, we have good product. The UK market is very resilient," said Grossmann, who was also at the media briefing.
The A380 fleet will also improve MAS weekly seat capacity by 37 per cent in both directions of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport-London Heathrow route. The A380 services will offer 6,916 seats weekly compared with 5,026 seats offered through the earlier double daily B747-400 operations, allowing more passengers to travel on the super jumbo aircraft.
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