MALAYSIA Airlines’ decision to halve frequencies of air services between Kuala Lumpur and Delhi to daily flights since September 1 had resulted in a loss of MICE business to Malaysia, said agents interviewed.
Suneet Goenka, group managing director of Red Apple Travel in Kuala Lumpur, declared the reduced frequencies “a disaster”.
He elaborated: “It is going to be very difficult to get MICE business from northern India where companies place great value on connectivity and pricing. Many Indian companies book last minute – three to four weeks in advance – and a hybrid carrier like Malindo Air will not give airfares in advance for large groups.”
Goenka revealed that some Indian companies had already removed Malaysia from their list of preferred destinations.
He also warned that reduced capacity on scheduled airlines would lead to higher airfares on the India-Malaysia sector.
Also impacted by Malaysia Airlines’ service reduction is Hidden Asia Travel & Tours in Kuala Lumpur. Its managing director, Nanda Kumar, said: “Many corporate companies in India want their staff to arrive on the same day. Due to this requirement which cannot be fulfilled through reduced frequency, we have lost a number of potential MICE businesses to other destinations.”
However, an agent from Delhi, Rajendra Dhumma, director of Classic Travels & Tours, has downplayed the effect, saying that the weakened ringgit is enough to keep Indian clients interested in Malaysia.
He said that “Malaysia (is) an even more attractive destination” due to the currency exchange in India’s favour.
“(Moreover) many companies in India have also cut spending and will opt to send employees on (cheaper) airlines like Malindo Air,” he added.
Amit Singla, managing director of Scotch & Water Innovations, Bangalore, disagreed. “Organisers who can pay for scheduled carriers will want a direct connection for their groups. The distance from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur is too short for one stop. The suspension of the morning departures from Delhi to Kuala Lumpur will also affect onward connections from Kuala Lumpur for business travellers from India.”
Dilip Masrani, managing director of Favourite Tours & Forex Gujarat, remarked: “Malaysia will lose out to other destinations once Twentieth Century Fox World Malaysia opens in 2016. This will be a very big attraction for the Indian market and will appeal to Indian business event delegates who often travel with their spouses.
“If organisers fail to secure enough seats to Malaysia for their groups, they will simply choose another destination that can offer better connectivity and airfares.”