MALAYSIA Airlines’ decision to halve frequencies of air services between Kuala Lumpur and Delhi from September 1 has travel consultants in Malaysia and India fretting over the possible loss of business.
The beleaguered flag carrier, which had on August 28 undergone a rebranding and is being restructured into a new company, now flies daily on this route, down from twice-daily services previously.
Nanda Kumar, managing director of Hidden Asia Travel & Tours Malaysia, said this would slow down corporate incentive and group travel segments because clients would not be able to get seats for the entire group.
“Clients can still travel to Malaysia on premium airlines, via Singapore and Bangkok, but they may cut short their time in Malaysia. For instance, they may choose to stay two to three nights, instead of four,” he said.
Ganneesh Ramaa, manager at Luxury Tours Malaysia, is bracing for a drop of at least 10 per cent in Indian arrivals from Delhi this coming travel season, which runs from mid-September to year-end.
He said: “If clients cannot get seats on Malaysia Airlines, they will simply go elsewhere. Singapore and Thailand will benefit.”
With capacity down, Rajesh Sethi, managing director of Carnation Holidays in Delhi, warned of likely fare hikes by Malaysia Airlines for this route.
There is, however, a spark of optimism in this situation, arising from Malindo Air’s plans to launch twice-weekly flights between Malaysia’s Penang and India’s Tiruchirapalli come September 26. As the only service that connects Penang with an Indian city, it is expected to boost Indian interest in Malaysia’s northern region and mitigate a major loss of Indian traffic to Malaysia.
Travel consultants from both countries told TTG Asia e-Daily that they are eager to create new itineraries that leverage the new airline.
Kumar said: “We will combine Penang with Bukit Merah Laketown Resort in Perak, and Penang with Langkawi.”
Arokia Das, senior manager at Luxury Tours Malaysia, said: “There are now options to do tours in the north or to sell Penang as a mono destination as it offers many attractions in the city, on the hills and along the beach that appeal to Indians.”
Meanwhile, Chennai-based Holiday 18 Leisure Services’ director & CEO, K Gia, is looking for Malaysian partners from Penang to work with him to build new programmes, as “suppliers from Kuala Lumpur charge more”.
Read more in TTG-PATA Travel Mart 2015 Show Daily.