around the trade as much as would have been hoped.
‘We’re committed to New Zealand and to the trade there and we have actually continued flying (between Kuala Lumpur and Auckland) throughout the pandemic. It may have only been once or twice a month but we felt it was important to continue flying as much as we could.’
He says the early services (through April, May and June) during the crisis were regarded as ‘rescue’ flights. ‘We are now operating scheduled flights, obviously not for holiday makers but there are still a lot of people who find themselves trapped in places without jobs who need to get home. That seems to be working reasonably well, the load factors are pretty reasonable and where there is demand we will continue putting on capacity.’
Gilbert says Malaysia Airlines also took the opportunity to reorganise and get everything ready for when more frequency is able to return.
‘We have continued to communicate with trade and send out EDMs. We have also relooked at the fare structure and our preferred agreements, and looked at all of our literature and collateral.’
Gilbert says Malaysia has the pandemic under reasonable control and is repatriating Malaysian citizens and allowing in foreigners under its Malaysia My Second Home scheme – in both cases people need to follow strict, monitored self quarantining procedures.
‘Domestic travel is back and we are operating multiple flights on most key routes, all be it on a reduced schedule.’
He is confident there will be a strong return to international travel once borders open.
‘I think there will be a quick surge, particularly of people wanting to reconnect with friends and families and those who have urgent business. Then it may taper off a bit while people get used to travelling again.’