ANALYSIS: KL-Beijing a two-way battle between MAS, AirAsia X

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Capacity on the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route has grown 15% annually since 2005, largely due to an apparent capacity war between Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X since 2012.

The route has been in the news lately owing to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER that vanished on the morning of 8 March 2014. Of the aircraft’s 227 passengers, 154 were Chinese nationals. China Southern Airlines codeshares on some of the MAS's services to Beijing.

In 2013, Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia X provided total capacity of 340,000 seats on the route, up 21% from 2012. That year, however, was an extremely strong one for capacity on the route, with the entry of AirAsia X, which served to push overall capacity up 80%. That year also saw Air China end services on the sector.

For 2013, Malaysia Airlines dominated capacity, providing 207,000 seats and AirAsia X 133,000.

KL-Beijing outbound capacity - February 2014

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FlightMaps Analytics

FlightMaps Analytics shows that in February 2014 MAS had an edge in regard to capacity share, with it accounting for 60% (15,000 outbound seats) and AirAsia X the remaining 40% (10,000 seats).

Of this capacity, 90.6% is economy class, and 9.3% is business class. No first class seats are deployed on the route.

The carriers rely on just two aircraft types to service the route, the Boeing 777-200ER and Airbus A330.

The long term impact of MH370’s disappearance on MAS’s position in the Chinese market is not clear, but the event has generated a significant public relations backlash against the carrier specifically and Malaysia in general that may yet affect travel between the two countries.