Malaysia Airlines To Suspend LAX Service

Malaysia Airlines announced today that they will be discontinuing their service to Los Angeles as of April 30, 2014:

“The factors contributing to this negative situation today include over capacity and competition resulting in lower yields, high cost of operating the B777 aircraft, and pressure from continued increases in fuel costs. These are adding further pressure to the expenses of Malaysia Airlines group, which we are continuously evaluating,” he said.

MAS said it would focus on Asia where the demand outlook is strong, fuelled by a growing middle class and increased global and intra-regional trade.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I would guess the issue isn’t really over capacity or the operating cost, per se, but the fact that Malaysia had a totally uncompetitive product and I assume that contributed to horrible premium cabin yields.

Malaysia-777-Business-Class
Malaysia Airlines 777 business class

It’s one thing if they were the only airline flying nonstop between Kuala Lumpur and the US, though their service was one-stop as it is, with a stop at Tokyo Narita. Previously it stopped in Taipei, though in 2012 they began routing it through Tokyo Narita instead, which I assume made the route at least in theory a bit more sustainable (since the longhaul flight became ~1,500 miles shorter, meaning they didn’t have to sacrifice cargo for fuel as much).

So while it was the same aircraft the whole way through, the actual travel time wasn’t really any shorter than flying Cathay Pacific, for example, which offers a fully flat business class product with reverse herringbone seats.

Award space on the route was generally good, as they usually released two business class seats every day the flight is operated, so in a way I’m sad to see the route disappear.

While Malaysia’s A380s are quite nice, unfortunately the only longhaul destinations they fly them to are London and Paris.

Oh well. Can’t win if you don’t (really) try, Malaysia Airlines…

(Tip of the hat to David)

Comments

  1. @ wwk5d — That’s a great question. I really don’t have enough info to give a good answer. I would guess there’s not sufficient demand for an A380, but if they had a 777-300ER which was actually competitive…

  2. I’m a little sad about this, I flew this route halfway last summer (to Tokyo) and while the service is a little lackluster compared to the competion (ANA, SQ, AA etc.) it was easy to find rewards seats on for OneWorld. (I used Avios, only $170 in fuel charges)

    The only issue I had with this route is when I was going through customs in NRT they kept on thinking I was coming from Malaysia and asking me what I was doing there. After seeing my boarding pass from LAX they then started to ask why I was entering Japan on a 2 hour layover. (How long the Malaysia flights sits there). It took a lot of explaining and a supervisor before they finally realized that I was only flying to Japan and not continuing on.

  3. I flew this route 10 years ago and the MH 747 was OK, nothing spectacular. The lounge in KL was quite nice and I remember getting a complimentary massage. Did they really try to take advantage of the oneworld alliance by code-sharing a lot of feeder traffic into LAX?

  4. MH do have lots of competition for this route, UA (1×787), AA (1×772), DL (1×744), JL (1x77W), NH (1x77W), SQ (1×380), and KE

  5. You understand little of airlines economic… believe it or not, premium cabin has little to do with overall revenue numbers…

  6. Theoretically, this would result in increase in revenue tickets sold for other carriers and, potentially, less award space, correct?

  7. Wow — that flight has operated for a loooong time. In fact, if my recollection is right, it was the first biz class flight I ever took to Asia (about 18 years ago, stopping in Taipei on a 747. I’m pretty sure it’s also Malaysia’s only service to the Americas, so I guess they’re pulling out from this part of the world.

    I guess the fact that they don’t fly the route nonstop is their undoing. It would seem like a 787 would be good for this flight; I don’t know if they’ve ordered any.

    I did just take a couple of flights in Southeast Asia on Malaysia and they’re a pretty good airline. Their lounges are nice, as long as you’re not looking for booze. Even on short flights in coach, you usually get free movies and a hot meal. I’m surprised they can be competitive with Air Asia on those routes, yet struggle on long haul routes where they have any indirect competition. Perhaps the losses are just larger on the longer routes.

  8. Goodness, L’y, not everything revolves around premium cabins! This is just ignorance in your writing here.

    This is a very competitive route even on Economy seats, and that’s where most of the revenue comes from, not your obsession with Biz/FC seats.

    And to those who suggested using A380 or a 787, that’s even more ignorant and foolish! You’ve got enough A380 competition from the likes of SQ, KE, soon-to-come Asiana, etc.

    The economics just doesn’t make sense, there isn’t enough traffic from KUL going to LAX to justify the capital flight investments.

    Sheesh, and not because of the cabin, otherwise blingy planes like Emirates would fly this route too!

  9. Most countries are corrupt but when you’re EXTRA corrupt like M’sia, it’s hard to compete with likes of Cathay Pacific, SIA, Virgin…

    MAS is so freaking hateful, there is no lounge whatsoever during the stopover in Taiwan or Japan on the way to the US even for 1st class passengers, not even a small bottle of water during the 1+ hours transit wait!

    I so wish all their freaking corrupt management staff burn in hell!

    P.S. They serve the worst/cheapest “fruit juices” in their first class cabin.

    Good riddance, MAS!!!

  10. Isn’t LAX their only destination in USA? I recall MAS used to fly to NYC via Stockholm several years ago. Who knows? MAS may fly its A380 from CDG to a oneworld hub in the usa someday in the future.

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