Malaysia Airlines increasing fuel surcharge, introducing new Web check-in service

Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 21:48 by Aviation Correspondent

Malaysia Airlines, the flag carrier of Malaysia, will increase fuel surcharge within the next two weeks as a part of its bid to cope with record-high costs of aviation fuel. Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama quoted Idris Jala, chief executive officer of Malaysia Airlines, as saying: “The increase in fuel surcharge will be on a route-by-route basis and will happen within two weeks. I can only say at this time that it will be high and in line with what our competitors are imposing.”

“Over the past year,” he added, “we have increased our fuel surcharge 5 times in the light of the ever increasing fuel prices. The airline industry is facing one of its worst crises with many carriers on the brink of bankruptcy.”

The details of the new fuel surcharge will be announced soon, an official of Malaysia Airlines said.

Meanwhile, Munir Majid, chairman of Malaysia Airlines, had admitted that it would be difficult for the carrier to meet its net-profit target for 2008 if the price of crude oil stays above US $135 a barrel.

This pessimistic projection is notwithstanding Malaysia Airlines having reported profits for seven successive quarters.

The airline is set to release its results for the second quarter in August 2008.

It was in 2007 that Malaysia Airlines started making profits after two years of losses.

According to Munir Majid, the price of jet fuel – which comprises about 40% of the carrier’s operational costs – is compelling the carrier to “review unprofitable routes and freeze recruitment to cut costs.”

Even in the midst of financial crisis, Malaysia Airlines is taking customer-friendly steps by simplifying the air travel process through the Passenger Services System, or Web check-in.

The new web check-in option is currently available for travel on its Malaysian domestic sectors, and would be expanded to be made available worldwide, according to an official of the airline.

According to him, “customers will enjoy the flexibility and ease of booking and checking in at their own convenience, together with the option of selecting their preferred seats online 24 hours before flight departure. For domestic flights, Malaysia Airlines passengers will be able to do everything from flight bookings to printing their boarding passes without even having to leave home.”

“This service,” he added, “will be progressively provided by August 2008 for travel to Malaysia Airlines’ destinations in the member-countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is expected to cover all its international destinations by end of 2008. Plans are also in progress to provide the Web check-in service for travel starting from the airline’s international stations targeted for complete cut-over by the 3rd quarter of 2009.”