The New Straits Times Press Bhd (NSTP) chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid (centre) and Malaysia Airlines Bhd CEO Peter Bellew (left) at NSTP Balai Berita in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. With them is NSTP resource centre manager Ramlan Ramli. PIC BY ROSELA ISMAIL

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) is opening up eight new routes to China, adding to the existing 17, says chief executive officer Peter Bellew.

The new routes are to Chengdu, Wuhan, Nanjing, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Shenzhen, Haikou and Tianjin.

“That’s the largest number of new routes that the company has started in the history of Malaysia Airlines,” he told the New Straits Times and Berita Harian yesterday.

“We’ve never done anything like that before. So it’s a huge expansion for us. I think China is going to be a massive growth market for tourism,” he said.

Bellew said the new routes would not just fly out from Kuala Lumpur. Some will be from Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang.

The first two new routes had already started, the third would start by end of this month, and the others were scheduled between now and October, he said during a visit to The New Straits Times Press Bhd (NSTP) at the Balai Berita, here, yesterday.

Bellew and his team also met with Media Prima Bhd group managing director Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin, NSTP chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid and Harian Metro group editor Datuk Mustapa Omar.

“I’m​ a huge believer in print advertising. We’ve run a number of campaigns with Media Prima and it was a huge boost to Malaysia Airlines.

“Old-fashioned print advertising works extremely well in the country. People still read newspapers. We’ll be investing millions of ringgit in the next twelve months with Media Prima,” said Bellew.

It has been three years since the national carrier was delisted from Bursa Malaysia by parent Khazanah Nasional and supplanted by MAS.

Bellew, who is on a three-year contract, said his main task is to make the national carrier profitable by next year, ahead of a planned relisting in 2019. 

In reinstating more routes for MAS, Bellew is on a mission to get new aircraft.

“We are looking at Airbus A330 and Boeing 787. Ideally, if we can get some more wide-body aircraft next year, that would give Malaysia Airlines a boost, making it more luxurious and giving it a more premium feel.”

“Malaysia Airlines was the pride of the nation previously and we were accorded five stars from Skytrax World Airline Rating for eight or nine years before 2013.

We’re going to work very hard for the next 12 months to get that back. That’s the goal I’ve set myself,” Bellew added.

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