Malaysia Airlines is still well-loved by Malaysians – but not quite by Singaporeans and Hong Kongers

The Straits Times

Malaysia Airlines has had some rocky times in recent years, including the tragedies of MH370 and MH17, and the sudden resignation of its former CEO Christoph Mueller.

But to Malaysians, these incidents do not sully the airline’s name.

A survey by market research company YouGov, published on Monday (March 18), has found that Malaysia Airlines’ overall brand health remains high amongst Malaysians, who gave the airline an index score of +40.0.

Indonesians also gave the airline a positive score of +4.2, while Thais scored it +2.1.

But the same cannot be said for other markets. Hong Kong gave Malaysia Airlines a negative score of -5.4. And so did Singapore consumers, who scored Malaysia Airlines -13.7 – the lowest score given by the five countries surveyed.


According to YouGov, the airline’s index score was calculated by averaging its impression, value, quality, reputation, satisfaction and recommend scores based on responses from 538 participants.

“Malaysia Airlines is an interesting case study, as few brands have experienced the range of challenges it has faced in such a short period of time,” said Ervin Ha, YouGov APAC Head of Data Products.

“It appears encouraging though, in spite of rough times, some Malaysians remain loyal to the brand,” he added.

Talk of the town – but not in a good way

According to YouGov, Malaysia Airlines’ recent scandals caused its “buzz scores” to fall, even amongst Malaysian consumers.

The company awards buzz scores based on whether or not respondents have heard anything good or bad about the brand over the past two weeks.

In November last year, news of debris suspected to be from missing plane MH370 caused Malaysia Airlines’ buzz score suffered a dip.

The airline’s buzz score fell again in January, when the brand was wrongly accused of publishing an image of a pork dish in its inflight magazine.

The score continued to decline among Malaysian consumers even with Malaysia Airlines’ recent announcement in February that it will launch Amal, a sub-brand to provide Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage flights to Saudi Arabia.

A different crowd

YouGov’s profile data also showed that Malaysia Airlines’ customers have changed.

It found that Malaysia Airlines’ current customers – defined as people who have used the brand within the past 12 months – are most likely married men aged 30 to 44, who work full-time and earn more than RM10,000 (US$2,453) a month,

This is a stark contrast to previous data, which showed that one year ago, the airline’s former customers were more likely to be single women aged 16 to 29.

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