THREE British carriers - British Airways (BA), Virgin Atlantic and British Midlands - have Malaysia on their radar screens but the issue that is holding them back is yields.
Yield is a term the airlines use to measure the revenue per-customer-per-km flown.
While the British carriers are still crunching their numbers, they acknowledge that Malaysia has huge potential since it records high passenger volumes on the KL-Britain sector, Royal Khmer Airlines is set to enter the Malaysian market this year.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Shangdong Airlines and Aer Lingus would be making their way to KL International Airport (KLIA) next year.
Etihad is planning a three to four times weekly flight but its plans are dependent on how fast they can mobilise their aircraft.
We can say about four new airlines would fly to KLIA next year even though many others have indicated interest, MAHB senior manager, marketing, Mohamed Sallaud-din Mat Sah said.
With Cambodia's Khmer, KLIA can expect three more new airlines this year, including Indias Air Sahara, Medans Top Air and Russias Transaero.
As at Septem-ber, five new carriers made their way to KLIA - Shenzhen Airlines, Royal Nepal Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Indias Jet Airways and last weeks AirAsias Indonesian unit, PT AWAir.
Sallauddin told reporters in Copenhagen at the end of the Routes 2005 forum that MAHB met up with executives from 28 airlines and Aer Lingus was keen to fly to KLIA but they were trying to look at their aircraft availability issue first.
Aer Lingus is most convinced that Malaysia has its attractiveness, he said.
Finnair, which currently flies to Bangkok from Finland, is trying to work out a schedule to include KLIA on its routing.
Sallauddin said Saudi Arabian Airlines would also be increasing its flight frequency from twice weekly to three times by next year for its Jeddah-KL flights. It would also maintain the nine-weekly flights during the Arab summer, from June to August.
Meanwhile, yields on Britain-Malaysia market are competitive as many carriers are plying the route either direct or via European destinations.
BA pulled out of the Malaysian route in 2001 alongside Lufthansa and Qantas, but Lufthansa has since returned.
Virgin Atlantic has a code-share agreement with Malaysia Airlines which is coming up for review at the end of the year. If that is not renewed, Virgin may consider flying direct to KLIA.
Sallauddin said British Midlands had requested to meet MAHB officials at the Routes 2005 forum.
They (British Midlands) were very exploratory in nature. They asked for some data; they may just be assessing the market, he said.
As for BA, Sallauddin and MAHB managing director Datuk Bashir Ahmad met its executives during Routes 2005 and they (BA) are closely monitoring the route and time will tell when they would fly again to KLIA.
Some 345 million travellers ply the Britain-Malaysia route a year, Sallauddin said, adding that about 250 million flew directly from Britain.
Although discussions to get more carriers to fly to Malaysia were encouraging, he said MAHB may next year plan a rebranding exercise to further strengthen its position.