The deal will see the carriers add their flight codes to certain services operated by the other party.
Earlier today, Asian carriers Malaysia Airlines and Saudia announced that they had signed a codeshare to enable increased cooperation and seamless connections between the two airlines. The deal will also see passengers in the countries of these airlines enjoy more travel options, as their networks become more integrated.
While the statement that the airlines involved jointly issued today notes that the deal is still subject to regulatory approval, it represents an exciting step forward nonetheless. Saudia and Malaysia Airlines are looking to foster better connectivity with the Middle East and the Far East, with Australia also being targeted.
As such, Saudia flights from Kuala Lumpur to its Jeddah and Riyadh hubs, as well as those serving hotspots such as Cairo and Madinah, will also have Malaysia Airlines’ MH flight code. Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines services from Kuala Lumpur to several destinations in Australia and the Far East will have Saudia’s SV added. Captain Izham Ismail, Malaysia Airlines‘ Group CEO, stated that:
“We are delighted to welcome SAUDIA as our new codeshare partner to leverage each other’s network, allowing two full-service carriers to expand their operations to South East Asia and Australia as well as the Middle East respectively. This partnership will strengthen Malaysia Airlines’ presence in Saudi Arabia and build upon a strong relationship between the two carriers.”
While the news of this codeshare may be unexpected to some, there are certain aspects that show it to be an astute move for the carriers involved. After all, Jeddah ranked in the top 20 busiest international routes out of Kuala Lumpur before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. With its status as an important Middle East hub, the deal will give Malaysia Airlines passengers greater connectivity to the region.
While Malaysia Airlines has been known to fly to Saudi Arabia itself, it typically only does so for Hajj pilgrim flights under the Amal brand. As such, the deal with Saudia will mark an important step forward in the sense that the carrier’s MH flight code will now be present on scheduled services to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Meanwhile, Saudia will leverage the agreement to provide passengers with better connectivity to Australia and the Far East, with connections through Malaysia Airlines’ Kuala Lumpur hub on codeshare flights. With Saudi Arabia looking to grow as a tourist destination in its own right in the coming years, it may also hope to see passengers from these destinations utilize the deal to travel to the kingdom.
When two alliances collide
What makes this particularly interesting is the fact that it will see cooperation between airlines from different alliances. Indeed, Malaysia Airlines has been part of oneworld since 2013, while Saudia joined SkyTeam in 2012. Nonetheless, the carriers are keen to make it work, with Saudia CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshy stating:
“We are pleased to cooperate with Malaysia Airlines to give its passengers the opportunity to learn about the warm Arab hospitality that SAUDIA is famous for all over the world, as well as providing access to various destinations in the region. We look forward to enhancing the prospects of bilateral relations in the future.”
While non-alliance carriers like Emirates have forged many codeshares with carriers that do belong to alliances, cooperation between airlines from competing groups is rarer. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the deal pans out.
What do you make of the new codeshare between Malaysia Airlines and Saudia? Have you flown with either of these carriers this year? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!