Chief Executive Officer of MYAirline

After having been in the airline industry for 34 years, Klang-born Rayner Teo has not only realised the goal to give birth to a new airline but will soon be launching some domestic routes and gradually expanding its route network. Elated with MYAirline recently receiving the air service license (ASL) from the Malaysian Aviation Commission to operate MYAirline effective from November 15, the family man of three children is responsible with the MYFamily team on the new start-up airline and its future expansion.

Please share how your previous job experiences have equipped you to helm your present position?
Prior to my current role, I was based in Bangkok with the opportunity to work with Thai VietJet Air as part of the value chain of Thailand and Vietnam’s travel industry. My position as a Commercial Advisor there was mainly due to my experience with AirAsia and AirAsia X. My portfolio included building the tourism industry through my position as Group Head of Sales and Distribution.

My 15-year tenure with the brand has equipped me to run MYAirline. Looking back, since I paved my career in 1988, it has been a humbling journey of gaining well-rounded experiences with full-service carriers, an airline system company, the International Air Transport Association, and stints with low-cost carriers (LCC).

How did you come up with the overall concept, business plan, and strategy for this new airline with a local entrepreneur?
In my friendship with a prominent businessman of over 10 years, we have this tradition of wishing each other during festive seasons. The idea came about in October 2020 during the lockdown and looking at the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the objective was to restart the economy while giving a light of hope to our local aviation community.

We wanted to provide job opportunities for those impacted by the pandemic and spur the local economy by providing new business opportunities in the aviation business segment. The overall concept, business plan and strategy were based on what we felt would work with our relevant experience. We went on to build a team of highly skilled talents and decided to work on an LCC model that offers affordable airfares.

When do you hope to commence your flight operations with the three jets MYAirline has leased and what are the new routes?
We are now open for sale as we enter the final month of 2022 when the school holidays are starting. We look forward to the long-awaited launch of our inaugural flights to Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi, Kota Bharu, and Penang in December.

All of us at MYAirline are thrilled to have come this far as a Malaysian carrier that we have built from scratch. We target to increase the capacity by the end-2023 to international destinations. So, be ready to book your holidays and fly with us!

How do you view the competition in the LCC market, especially with MYAirline’s entry?
We were confident to enter the market during the pandemic after doing our market research thoroughly when we started out in 2020. We are even more optimistic now following Maybank Investment Bank Bhd’s recent analysis that further supports our forecast in travel demand. Healthy competition is good overall.

What are MYAirline’s unique selling points?
The airline’s focus will be on continuously improving our customer experiences in both physical and soft touch basis besides providing affordable airfares.

Please elaborate on how you hope to turn MYAirline into an “innovative, customer-focused and people- centric airline”.
We innovate through our eco-friendly initiatives and digitisation. We are the world’s first airline to be fitted with light, innovative and eco-friendly seats. These ergonomically designed seats save around 800 kg of weight, which translates to 155 tonnes of fuel save per plane each year, and they are made in Italy.

From day one, our manual has been prepared digitally whereby we operate our aircraft using digital manuals on iPad. Our human resource recruitment is processed digitally and we administer financial processes on secured cloud storage. My colleagues in MYFamily are our most important asset. In MYAirline, we have created an aviation ecosystem whereby we hire talents who have been furloughed or retrenched due to the pandemic. I am proud of this as we have grown together for the past years.

Amid high jet fuel prices, a strong US dollar, surging inflation, how does MYAirline aim to provide a “fair” price to consumers?
MYAirline was born during the pandemic and we have negotiated hard to acquire aircraft with low leasing rates. As a new start-up, we keep our cost structure strong so we can offer affordable fares to our passengers without compromising on service quality.

Given that this is a capital-intensive business, how do you hope to raise more money to run your operations and future expansion?
We are reaping the benefits of getting good airplanes at lower leasing rates. We also have been able to sign up the experienced staff who had left other carriers. For our headquarter in Subang, we were able to lock in a competitive long-term rental rate. We also plan to avoid acquiring white elephants, that is buying something that ends up not being used.

How do you view the prospects ahead in 2023 as air travel recovery speeds up?
We are positive that the travel market will bounce back in 2023 and are looking forward to providing viable options with better services for our passengers. As ‘revenge travel’ is still rising, we believe the locals will continue to discover the beauty in our own backyard. The number of inbound tourists has been on the increase and will continue to rise in 2023.

How big is your current staff force at MYAirline?
To date, our staff force, or as we call it MYFamily is over 400 strong. We expect to increase it to 500 by the end of December.

What is your wish list for MYAirline?
They include making MYAirline not only a successful LCC in Malaysia but also globally known; having Malaysians view us as their first choice of LCC and expanding our network to key regional routes by the fifth year of operation. We plan to grow to 50 aircraft within the next five years.

Have you been able to fit your hobbies into your hectic career?
While prioritising work which includes travelling for business, there have been opportunities to also learn and explore items of interest related to my hobbies; which include football and Formula One races.

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