Malaysia Airlines recently hosted an evening of great food, music, and wine in Taipei to show its appreciation to travel agencies and tour operators that supported the carrier this past year.
"We enjoyed positive growth in Taiwan, thanks to all of you," Malaysia Airlines Area Manager Suffian Malik said.
During the dinner, Suffian said Malaysia Airlines had what it took to be a five-star carrier. MAS will continuously raise its service standards, invest in state-of-the-art hardware, and roll out exciting, value-for-money promotions in the coming year, he said.
"There's a lot of competition in the market, and we asked ourselves, 'How can we compete?' We cannot cut prices forever. The only way to go is to upgrade our service standards," said Suffian.
The carrier, for instance, is spending millions of dollars on its aircraft refurbishment program. Last month, MAS launched its "sleeper" seat at the Taipei International Travel Fair.
"Our retrofitted B747-400 will be serving our Kuala Lumpur-Taipei-Los Angeles or Los Angeles-Taipei-Kuala Lumpur flights by July 2006," Suffian said.
Kuala Lumpur, which is running an aggressive "Malaysia, Truly Asia" campaign in Taiwan, literally brought the aircraft cabin into its spacious booth at the Taipei World Trade Center Hall 1. The booth's centerpiece was a newly reconfigured Business class seat that will be installed in the carrier's reconfigured Boeing 777-200 and 747-400 aircraft.
"Malaysia Airlines is one of the pioneers in gaining the third-generation of sleeper beds and emerging innovative in-flight entertainment technologies for its cabin reconfiguration program," the airline said.
"The installation of the Matsushita System 3000 - an all-digital system that provides movies, music, and interactive games on demand - in all classes, including Economy, will increase (the carrier's) appeal to the mass travel market."
Malaysia Airlines is hoping to corner the jetset crowd with its new First Class on the B747-400. According to the company, the star of its premium cabin is an electrically operated seat with articulating arms linked to recline a full flat bed, extendable leg rest, footrest surface and adjustable lumbar with massage feature. The state-of-the-art seat also has an electrically operated headrest, a large dining table with a buddy seat, and even a privacy shell.
"Those plush seats have their own compartments," Suffian said. "The only complaint that we got since we installed those seats in our aircraft was that 'It's a single and not a double bed.' That has not been invented yet."
The airline currently operates seven weekly flights each from Taipei to Kota Kinabalu, and Kaohsiung to Kota Kinabalu - Malaysia's second busiest airport. It also operates five weekly Los Angeles-Taipei-Kuala Lumpur flights.
"We are also getting involved in Taiwan's cultural and music scene," Suffian said.
"We are sponsoring the 'Phantom of the Opera' which will be shown in Taiwan in January 2006, and just recently, Michael Bolton's Taipei concert. (Our involvement) proves that Taiwan is a significant market for us."
The executive likewise underscored MAS' extensive network.
"We operate almost everywhere," Suffian said.
Founded in 1947 as a small air service operating one twin-engine, five-seater Air Consul, Malaysia Airlines System had since grown into one of the world's mega carriers, operating a fleet comprising over a hundred aircraft and servicing more than 100 destinations spread across six continents, Suffian continued.
"In fact, we are the only airline that connects South Africa to South America with our Capetown-Buenos Aires flight. We are the only airline that does that in the world," he said.
In 2006, MAS and Tourism Malaysia will be launching incentive-driven travel packages, Suffian said.
"We have a lot of convention facilities in Malaysia," said the executive, noting that incentive tour packages had been warmly welcomed by Taiwanese travelers in 2005.
"In Taiwan alone, (we carried) at least 3,000 passengers (to Malaysia) on incentive tours. Thanks to all of you."