Maher Bird bags Malaysia Airlines UK business

Malaysia Airlines, one of South-East Asia’s biggest airlines, is poised to appoint Maher Bird Associates (MBA) to handle its &£1m UK advertising account.

A lengthy pitch for the business, held by DDA, began last July (MW July 1, 2004). Marketing manager Martin Braisby has led the review from the UK and the final decision is expected imminently from Malaysia Airlines’ head office in Kuala Lumpur.

MBA’s brief will be to create local advertising for the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The airline’s global advertising will continue to be handled by Leo Burnett. A review of the UK media business, held by Acumen Partnership, is also under way.

Malaysia Airlines flies out of Heathrow and Manchester and is making a concerted push to attract more business this year, with orders for several dozen new aircraft. It is also introducing flat beds in its business class category.

It is looking to join one of the global airline alliances and is considering Oneworld or Skyteam. The Star Alliance is not open to it, because competitors Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways are members.

Like all airlines, Malaysia Airlines is suffering from the rise in fuel prices and is also under pressure from regional low-cost carriers. However, it posted a small profit of $7m (&£3.75m) for its first quarter, which ran to June 2004.

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