Malaysia-based airline Malindo Air is gearing up to launch non-stop flights from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur by the year’s end as it moves to attract Queensland flyers to its KLIA hub: either as a destination itself or as a stopover point en route to one of many other cities.
It’s an ambitious plan for one of the fastest-growing airlines in Asia, which began one-stop flights from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur via Denpasar (Bali) only two months ago using Boeing 737 jets – with non-stop flights a possibility once the airline takes hold of its new, longer-range Airbus A330s.
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller in Brisbane, Malindo Air Founding CEO Chandran Rama Muthy shares that “we would like to upgrade at least three of those flights each week to Kuala Lumpur (from one-stop to non-stop services), with the remaining flights continuing via Bali.”
“It’s needless to introduce Bali to Australians, but the idea is to make Kuala Lumpur into a transit hub. We would really like the Brisbane market to connect through Kuala Lumpur… as we fly to 16 countries and 45 destinations, with Brisbane our 45th,” Muthy continues.
Non-stop flights could take wing “as early as December, if not a little sooner”, and would bring a significant upgrade for business class travellers: swapping the 12 reclining seats of the Boeing 737s to 18 fully-flat beds on the Airbus A330s, once delivered to the airline later this year.
New lounge, new partnerships, new brand
Malindo Air business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers currently receive access to the Plaza Premium Lounge in Kuala Lumpur, although Malindo Air will open its own dedicated lounge at KLIA in approximately six months’ time, with construction already underway.
The airline also aims to triple its ‘interline’ airline partnerships from five to 15 by the end of the year – allowing passengers to connect through Kuala Lumpur onto a wider variety of destinations and airlines on a single reservation – and plans to announce its first codeshare venture next month.
For those not adept with ‘travel lingo’, Muthy quips that “interlines are like going out with a girlfriend… once you’re happy with her, you get married: and for us, that’s called a codeshare”, with the airline’s five current interline partners being ANA, Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.
Malindo Air will also change its name to Batik Malaysia in the second half of this year, doing away with the ‘Malindo’ brand – a portmanteau of ‘Malaysia’ and ‘Indonesia’ – and creating familiarity with its Indonesian sister airline Batik Air, which will similarly be known as Batik Indonesia.
As Australian Business Traveller reported earlier this week, Batik Air will launch its own non-stop flights from Denpasar to Perth on June 21, joining Malindo Air’s existing (and non-stop) Perth-Kuala Lumpur flights, which use a mix of Boeing 737-800 and 737-900ER aircraft.
With Malindo Air the global launch customer of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, Muthy hints that Perth could see the next-gen jet in the future, although “right now, we’re focusing that aircraft towards Pakistan, Nepal and North India instead.”
Brisbane has not seen a non-stop Kuala Lumpur service since August 2015 when Qantas partner Malaysia Airlines withdrew from the route as part of a broader operational restructure to stem ongoing losses.