Peter Bellew, Malaysia Airlines’s Meath CEO is ‘wary of price wars’ as passenger figures rise

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Malaysia Airlines, headed up by Meath man Peter Bellew, saw passenger traffic grow to 3.8m customers last year, but warned that currency issues, fierce competition and the risk of a price war makes 2017 a challenging year.

Bellew joined the troubled airline in 2015, after stints as General Manager of Kerry Airport and Ryanair’s Chief Operations Officer. He succeeded former Aer Lingus boss Christoph Mueller as Malaysia’s CEO last July. Bellew said load factor rose to 81pc in the last quarter of 2016, hitting 90pc last December.

Peter Bellew CEO of Malaysia Airlines

Peter Bellew CEO of Malaysia Airlines

Bellew said bookings accelerated in the last quarter thanks to a focus on the premium business traveller and all-inclusive economy fares. “The last quarter saw a good performance in a challenging environment. Our staff have worked hard to improve customer service which is reflected in increased bookings,” he said. “Our focus is to be a five star premium Asian airline, offering the best of ‘Malaysian Hospitality’ to 15m customers a year, travelling to 54 destinations in 21 countries. Overall, the airline and the group recorded a smaller loss than initially projected under the business plan for the fiscal year 2016.”

But he said the airline faced tough months ahead. “Looking forward, the group remains cautious in the outlook for 2017, where the weaker Ringgit to the US dollar, overcapacity, and intense competition are expected to be the dominant themes for the year. The group continues to maintain strong year on year load performance and believes it will improve on targets for 2017, barring unexpected adverse declines in 2017 airfares due to overcapacity and intense competition,” he said.

The financial update came as the carrier warned that the delivery of its first Airbus A350 is expected to be delayed from the manufacturer by one to two months to December 2017. This may force the airline to seek additional widebody aircraft from Airbus or Boeing.

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