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Is it viable for MAS to fly daily to Qatar?


KUALA LUMPUR 13 May - Now that the local borders have reopened and almost all Malaysians are vaccinated, they are taking off to the skies once again for various reasons.


Among the airliners which will benefit is obviously Malaysia Airlines (MAS) which made a decent profit recently to reverse it's RM1.7 billion loss in 2020.


The national carrier announced yesterday that it will start flying to Doha, Qatar starting May 25 as part of it's expansion drive.


Can MAS fight the might of Qatar Airways?

For aviation analyst Captain Kamarul Ariff Abdul Karim, MAS simply cannot fight the might of Qatar Airways.


"MAS will spend millions of ringgit to set up an office, ground facilities, staff lodging and others in Doha.


"It is not a wise move for MAS to compete with a 5-star rated airline company such as Qatar Airways which is one of the world's best airliner.


Qatar Airways has better cost structure and most importantly they have a healthy passenger load flying from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to various parts of Europe and North America and using Doha only as a transit point (on top of other passengers who disembark at Doha).


Kamarul Ariff Abdul Karim
Kamarul Ariff Abdul Karim


Speaking to DagangNews, Kamarul said MAS should stop waste tax payers money by flying to the poor feasibility routes such as Doha. 


"They should not fly to any Middle East routes and compete head on with Qatar Airways,  Emirates or Etihad Airlines. 


"The only Middle Eastern routes that are feasible are Jeddah and Madinah," said the former MAS and Etihad airlines pilot.


Kamarul Ariff said MAS should instead focus more on Australia, New Zealand, China and India.


"The route manager should do proper costing or feasibility studies before deciding to fly to Doha."


MAS just cannot fight the legacy airlines of the Middle East.


A better solution would be code sharing if they are anticipating good payload for the Fifa 2022 World Cup in Doha," said Kamarul.


Dr Major Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian
Dr Major Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian


Meanwhile, Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology Head of Aviation Associate Professor Dr Major Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian said the decision by Malaysia Airlines to add Qatar as one of its destinations is perhaps a good approach.


This is because the demand to fly to Qatar is steadily rising due to the efforts of the government of Qatar in developing Qatar as the premier financial hub in the Middle East. 


This is the impetus for several airlines to add Qatar in their flight hubs.


He said before an airline, including Malaysia Airlines in this context, decides to embark upon a route, the airlines would actuate a comprehensive study upon the economic of return that would be garnered by the airlines.


"The study would involve the resources that are required to maintain the aircraft at the particular destination, the cost of parking the aircraft at a particular gate at the intended airport, the financial means needed for flight allowances and lodging of the flight crews, and others.




"Consequently, the other factor that would be taken into account is the necessary fuel needed to safely transport the passengers to the desired destination where reserve fuel is imperatively required in case the flight is diverted to other airports due to weather or technical problems during the flight.


"In the case of adding new routes, airlines would predict the volume of passengers that would acquire or purchase the tickets and the airlines would actuate parallel comparison whether this volume is adequate to gain sufficient profits. 


Harridon added if sufficient profits are not gained, trade off would be implemented where the price of the tickets would be increased to ensure there is a margin of profit and also to ensure, in the long term, the route is sustainable.


"Apart from profit, the move to add Qatar to the flight hub is seen as a strategic approach to enhance the trade between Malaysia and Qatar and also to increase the volume of businesses between the two countries," Harridon told DagangNews.


So will MAS's decision to fly to Qatar pay off?


Let's enjoy the World Cup in Doha first and enquire MAS later whether it made a profit or not flying to Qatar. -