Malaysia Airlines seeks UK support after tsunami

Long-haul specialist Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is to hold a pitch for its first retained UK agency. The move comes as it tries to counter the impact of December's tsunami and an increasingly competitive business travel market.

Agencies likely to be in the frame include KTA Public Relations, Seal Communications, McCluskey International and Brighter PR, which has worked for MAS on a project basis for the last three years.

Tender documents have already gone out to agencies and the account is understood to be worth around £75,000 a year in fees.

Founded in 1947, MAS is Malaysia's national carrier and operates flights to more than 100 destinations across six continents.

The company is based in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. In the UK, it operates out of Heathrow.

MAS recently launched its new first-class seats and is facing intense competition in the business long-haul stop-over market.

At the end of 2004, Virgin Atlantic became the latest airline to begin a service to Sydney via Hong Hong, while Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific already compete with MAS's one-stop London-to-Sydney service.

British Airways and Qantas operate about 70 per cent of business traffic.

MAS is this year expanding into several destinations in China and India.

Like other carriers to Asia, the company is also keen to persuade European holidaymakers that they should visit other countries in the region that were hit by December's Indonesian earthquake and the tsunami flooding.

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