RB to introduce more destinations in Australia, East Asia, India

National 1 minute, 41 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ROYAL Brunei (RB) airlines is planning to expand its network to more destinations in Australia, East Asia and India following the upgrading of its 12-aircraft fleet, said the airline’s CEO Karam Chand.

The flag carrier plans to add Beijing, Tokyo, Brisbane, Perth and India to its route network as part of its 2016-2021 five-year plan, centred around seeking out new markets and expanding RB’s regional network.

“Many of RB’s unprofitable long-haul flights were dropped during the restructuring process, but the carrier still flies to Dubai, London and Melbourne, and maintains seasonal routes to Jeddah,” Chand said in an interview published in the Oxford Business Group (OBG) 2016 report for Brunei.

During the airline’s restructuring between 2011 to 2016 – when the global aviation market took a serious downturn – RB simplified its network and fleet, cutting routes and retrenching staff. Overall, the carrier undertook $100 million worth of cost-cutting.

“These steps were taken in response to heavy losses, the full extent of which is unknown due to the carrier not disclosing its financial reports,” said OBG.

Former RB deputy chairman, Dermot Mannion, said the restructuring was well-timed as it coincided with Southeast Asia becoming the most competitive aviation market in the world.

Since then, RB has focused on regional yields in terms of developing its network, a move which has seen higher returns, boosting the airline’s operational performance.

At an industry meeting in 2015, Mannion said passenger load was at 70 per cent and continuing to rise.

During restructuring, RB dropped five routes: Auckland, Brisbane, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuching and Perth. However, Ho Chi Minh returned in 2014, followed by Bali.

On Tuesday, the carrier announced it would be adding Zhengzhou, in China’s Henan province, to its lineup of 17 destinations in order to tap into the rapidly growing Chinese travel market.

“Geographically Brunei Darussalam is well-positioned as a potential gateway to both ASEAN countries and northern Asia,” Mannion told OBG.

“The refurbishment of the Brunei International Airport is an important element to take into consideration.”

The Brunei Times