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Malaysia's newest budget airline ready to take off

MYAirline may be starting out small but it has big plans for the future.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli & Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
MYAirline staff go about their daily activities at the airline's office in Subang.
MYAirline staff go about their daily activities at the airline's office in Subang.

A new low-cost airline is expected to begin operations soon, following the issuance of its air operators certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia last week.

MYAirline is in the final stage of preparation and looking to commence operations in the last quarter of 2022.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow, Rayner Teo, the airline's CEO, said it would begin operating with three Airbus A320-200 aircraft to provide domestic flight services.

He said the idea of MYAirline began with the decision to venture into the low-cost flight segment based on the popularity of such airlines with consumers in the region. 

"We received our AOC last week, effective next month onwards," Teo said. 

"So that is one of the last stages before we go live and put our planes in the air. There are still a few steps left to go." 

Rayner Teo, the CEO of MYAirline, speaks about the company's plans for the future. 

Teo said the idea of starting up MYAirline was born in October 2020 – a bold plan considering that the country was still grappling with the spread of Covid-19. 

But today, he said, as the country transitions towards the endemic phase and the demand for aviation services increases, the move to establish another airline would appear to have paid off. 

"When we started our business plan, we were all conservative in terms of how we wanted to approach the market," he said. 

"At that point of time, we thought of starting domestic and then trying to build up the team."

At some point in the future, he said, MYAirline would expand to cover regional and international flights as well. 

"But we want to keep the flight range within four hours, because that's the sweet spot when it comes to low-cost carrier operations," he added. 

A miniature replica of one of MYAirline's planes. MYAirline plans to begin operating with three Airbus A320-200 aircraft to provide domestic flight services.

For now, MYAirline's flight routes remain under wraps, with Teo saying they would be officially announced when the airline is launched. 

From the aspect of aircraft operations, MYAirline will stick to the core principles of low-cost airlines by focusing only on the use of narrow-body aircraft.

In Malaysia, airlines are required to have at least two aircraft before they are allowed to operate. 

Here, Teo sees a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"At this point in time, one of the biggest advantages because of Covid-19 is that a lot of planes are sitting on the ground as they have no opportunity to get in the air," he said. 

"So we were able to get planes on lease at a very good price."

This, for now, is MYAirline's game plane. 

"In the beginning, we will lease planes instead of purchasing them," Teo said. 

"But we will explore when the time is right to own some planes as well." 

Teo is under no illusions about the competition MYAirline will face in starting out as a new industry player. 

Nevertheless, he said MYAirline would also liven up the market atmosphere, providing customers with alternative options.

The main strategy right now is to focus on offering basic services that are more guaranteed. 

Teo has high expectations for his airline but realises the risk of attempting too much at the same time. 

"We will focus on strengthening the team," he said, adding that MYAirline currently has more than 300 staff including 45 pilots. 

"We want to make sure that our on-time performance is among the best globally. 

"We believe that customers have rights and we want to have a long-term relationship with them. Most of the travelling public today, they don't travel just one time. There is a lot of repeat travel, so we need to make sure that we gain that loyalty."