The delivery of a fifth Boeing 787 could probably entice Royal Brunei Airlines to increase again its presence on long haul routes and to open a new route to Beijing.
The completion of a runway surface strengthening to allow full-load Boeing 787 at Bandar Sri Begawan airport as well as the future delivery of a fifth Boeing 787 next year could herald a new era of expansion for the Borneo-based carrier.
According to an interview of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) from Royal Brunei CEO Karam Chand, the addition of a new Boeing 787-8 would help maximising the use of the carrier fleet. In his interview, Mr. Chand envisions to convert the Bandar Sri Begawan-Dubai-London into a non-stop service between Brunei and the UK. The non-stop service would then make connections through Bandar Seri Begawan to Melbourne, Kota Kinabalu, Bali and Surabaya more attractive out of Europe. It would also position RBA as a good alternative airline to reach London out of Asia-Pacific.
The introduction of the non-stop service to the UK could also be enhanced by a new connection to Australia, according to RBA CEO. Brisbane is being seen as the most likely destination to rejoin RBA network. Brisbane could even be reached with the new Airbus A320neo which would offer an ideal capacity to the Australian city. Brisbane used to be served by Royal Brunei in a Boeing B777 until 2011. Following a restructuring exercise, RBA terminated also flights to Auckland and Perth.
According to CAPA, the airline is currently assessing economics behind the decoupling of Bandar Sri Begawan-Dubai-London. The airline studies if Dubai could also be totally dropped out from RBA network or stay on its own with improved connections to the region. Royal Brunei is also used by many overseas workers from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines who work in the Gulf area.
Another major step is the resumption of a route linking BSB to Beijing. The carrier announced a couple of days ago that it plans to set again direct flights to Beijing in December 2017. The expansion of Royal Brunei into China will begin with a twice weekly service to Beijing using the Airbus A320 CEO and move to thrice weekly service at the earliest opportunity. According to Karam Chand, “Royal Brunei last flew to Beijing two decades ago and we are delighted to connect both capital cities once again. The reintroduction of Beijing flights supports our network development and builds on the strong bilateral trade relationship between the two countries.”
Royal Brunei’s annual passenger numbers peaked at 1.32 million in 2010 but reached last year only 1.16 million passengers. It is likely to reach this year 1.2 million travellers again and it expects to reach 1.5 million passengers by 2019.