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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

March 19, 2014 13:13 IST

Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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Ruchika Chitravanshi and Aneesh Phadnis

As conspiracy theories abound about the disappearance of flight MH370, many Indian passengers, who had booked tickets for Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi or elsewhere in Asia Pacific, seem to be having second thoughts about boarding a Malaysia Airlines plane.

Travel agents have been busy fielding requests from passengers who want to change their bookings to any other airline for their travel.  

“Nearly 10-15 per cent of travellers have cancelled their bookings on the airline for the summer vacations,” said Subhash Goyal, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators and chairman of Stic Travel Group.

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Image: A 'Pray for MH370' projection is seen on the Putra World Trade Centre building in Kuala Lumpur
Photographs: Samsul Said/Reuters

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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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According to experts, with at least 25 countries now joining the hunt for the missing aircraft, Malaysian Airlines has come under global scrutiny, which has dented the brand image of the company.  

Travel companies are opting for Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines and Air India for their bookings.  

Goyal said,“All airlines follow international standards but some tourists just get sceptical after such incidents. It leaves a negative sentiment.” 

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Image: A woman and a girl look at a Malaysia Airlines plane on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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While Malaysia Airlines did not respond to an email query on the impact of the crisis on tourism,  Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, director general of Tourism Malaysia, said the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 had led to deferrals in visits by Chinese tourists.  

A girl has her picture taken after leaving messages of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur Internationa lAirport.  

There was no impact on arrivals from other countries, he said. “The security at Kuala Lumpur international airport is of international standards. It handles 40 million passengers annually. Passengers have very little to fear,” he added.

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Image: The Malaysian Airlines' incident has come under global scrutiny
Photographs: Reuters

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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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While travel companies had seen a drop of nearly 20-25 per cent in the sale of Malaysia Airline tickets just after the incident, bookings have started picking up in the last two days or so, with the airline now going back to its promotional discount offers of February, an industry executive said.  

Last year, 650,000 Indian tourists had visited Malaysia and the target for this year is 800,000.  

Total number of Indians travelling abroad is pegged at 15 million as of 2013. As for Malaysia Airlines, 10 per cent of its revenue is estimated to come from India, according to industry data.  

India is the third largest market for the airlines outside its home country, after Europe and Australia.  

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Image: A girl has her picture taken after leaving messages of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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This week, Malaysia Tourism is holding promotional road shows in India. But, due to the ongoing crisis in the country, the tourism minister of Malaysia has cancelled his visit for the event.  

“There is bound to be some impact on the airline and the tourism too. The airlines itself will have to come up with some special offers to recover the lost ground,” said a senior executive of a travel portal, who did not wish to be named.   

Malaysia Airlines connects to six Indian cities — Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kochi. It operates 66 weekly non-stop flights between India and Kuala Lumpur, connecting to key Asia Pacific destinations.  

The national carrier of Malaysia and one of Asia’s largest, flies around 47,000 passengers daily to some 60 destinations worldwide across four continents.

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Image: A woman adds her message on the clothes of a model during an art performance in support of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014.
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Why has Malaysian Airlines lost business in India?

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ROUGH WEATHER  

* Travel companies had seen a drop of nearly 20-25 per cent in the sale of Malaysian Airline tickets just after MH370 disappeared  

* Travel companies are booking the tourists, bound for Malaysia but opting out of Malaysian Airlines, on other flights such as Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines and Air India  

*Last year, 650,000 Indian tourists visited Malaysia and the target for this year is 800,000.


Image: After the MH370 flight disappeared, holiday-makers from India are looking for other options
Photographs: Reuters

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