Malaysia Airlines Eyes Partnerships, May Revisit Cathay Pacific Plans

Malaysia Airlines is in “deep conversations” with three carriers about plans to establish a joint business agreement (JBA)—and could potentially revive scrapped plans for a proposed partnership with Cathay Pacific.

Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) Managing Director Captain Izham Ismail said the airline’s ambition is to develop several JBAs, similar to an existing deal with fellow Oneworld alliance member Japan Airlines (JAL). 

The Malaysian flag-carrier had also hoped to commence a joint business with Cathay Pacific, operating on a metal-neutral basis on flights between Hong Kong and Malaysia. However, the proposals were scrapped last summer amid an investigation by Hong Kong’s Competition Commission.

“We are continuing to have deep conversation with three other carriers on joint business,” Izham told Routes for the latest episode of the Window Seat podcast during a recording at Routes Asia 2024. 

“We hope that we will model our joint business more aggressively in the future. That does not discount, in the next 12 months … or maybe 24 months, for us to revisit Cathay Pacific again. Joint businesses are … a very important pillar to our business plan moving forward.”

Malaysia Airlines and JAL entered a partnership in July 2020, offering codeshares between Malaysia and Japan, as well as on domestic flights. The Kuala Lumpur-based carrier later announced an agreement with Cathay Pacific in the first half of 2022.

However, Hong Kong’s competition regulator found reasonable cause to suspect that the latter deal would potentially contravene competition laws and launched a formal investigation into the plan. Although both airlines cooperated with the investigation, they opted to drop the proposals last July, with the Competition Commission closing its investigation in September.

Izham declined to name the three carriers involved in the latest talks, but said any arrangement would be designed to further support the expansion of Malaysia Airlines’ international network.

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