The delivery of new aircraft will help Royal Brunei Airlines to expand its network although the airline wants to retain its niche position. Korea, India, Japan and Taiwan could be new markets to be served.
Royal Brunei Airlines is looking to expand its network as soon as the airline will receive its new fleet of seven Airbus A320neos. Talking to media on the sidelines of the recent IATA Assembly General Meeting early June, Royal Brunei Airlines CEO Karam Chand indicated that the delivery of the aircraft has been slightly delayed.
Instead of having the first aircraft entering RBA fleet by the end of this year, the first A320neo is now due to enter in service by early next year, the last one pushed back to 2019. According to CEO Karam Chand, the airline’s fleet will expand by four aircraft in 2018 from 10 to 14 aircraft.
The carrier expects a total of eight deliveries, including the seven mentioned Airbus and one Boeing B787 Dreamliner for long-haul flights. Four leased A320ceos will then be returned. To the Centre for Pacific Asia Aviation, Karam Chand declared: “That is pretty sizeable growth, going from 10 aircraft to 14 aircraft on a net basis”.
The fleet growth will boost the airline’s capacity by approximately 25%. It would then help RBA to expand its network and boost its regional hub of Bandar Seri Begawan. The CEO envisions mostly to expand in Northeast Asia as well as India. Most likely are new routes to Seoul -served for the time being on a charter basis- which could also help the airline to reach out to the Japanese market. Beijing remains a top market to be served in China as RBA already flies to Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Hong Kong.
In India, RBA considers weekly frequencies to the South of the country (either to Bangalore or Chennai) due to the presence of an important Indian community working in Brunei but also to neighbouring Malaysia. Bandar Seri Begawan could also vie as an attractive alternative for Indian holiday makers flying either to Australia, Bali or East Malaysia. Taiwan or eventually Japan non-stop services could also be added.
Royal Brunei’s regional network today comprises nine points in ASEAN: Jakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar in Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia; Manila in the Philippines; Bangkok in Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Singapore. Chand is likely to increase frequencies on its ASEAN network as only Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are for now served by two daily services each. Jakarta and Bangkok could then be upgraded to daily services.
The long-haul network consists of a daily service to Melbourne in Australia and five weekly services to London via Dubai in the UK. Seasonal services are operated to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.