Royal Brunei Airlines
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|Founded||18 November 1974|
|Commenced operations||14 May 1975|
|Hubs||Brunei International Airport|
|Frequent-flyer program||Royal Skies|
|Airport lounge||Sky Lounge|
|Parent company||Government of Brunei|
|Headquarters||Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei|
Dato Sean Lynch-Lawton (Chairman)
Royal Brunei Airlines Sdn Bhd (Malay: Penerbangan DiRaja Brunei, Jawi: ﻓﻧﺭﺑﺎڠن ﺩﻴﺮﺍﺝ ﺑﺮﻮﻧﻲ), or RBA, is the flag carrier airline of the Sultanate of Brunei, headquartered in the RBA Plaza in Bandar Seri Begawan. It is wholly owned by the government of Brunei. Its hub is Brunei International Airport in Berakas, just to the north of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei.
Formed in 1974 with an initial fleet of two aircraft, serving Singapore, Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, Royal Brunei Airlines now operates a fleet of 10 aircraft to 16 destinations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia. Its fleet and type numbers increased dramatically in the 1990s, with great expectations as to the next destinations.
Royal Brunei Airlines won ‘Best Foreign Airline’ award in the category “Award For Best Airlines” at the Sabah Tourism Awards 2011. RB have the distinction of operating the youngest long haul fleet in the world with the recent deliveries of the Dreamliners.
- 1 History
- 2 Subsidiaries
- 3 Destinations
- 4 Fleet
- 5 Ground services
- 6 In-flight service and awards
- 7 Loyalty Programme
- 8 See also
- 9 Footnotes
- 10 External links
Royal Brunei Airlines was established on 18 November 1974 with two new Boeing 737-200s. The airline's first flight was on 14 May 1975 from the newly built Brunei International Airport to Singapore. Flights to the then British colony of Hong Kong and the city of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching in East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo) started the same day.
Early route expansion included services to Manila in 1976, and Bangkok in 1977. Three years later, Royal Brunei acquired a Boeing 737-200QC – its third Boeing 737 – enabling it to reach Kuala Lumpur in 1981 and Darwin in 1983.
From national independence: 1984–1991
After the independence of Brunei from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984, services commenced to Jakarta on 3 January, thus linking all five ASEAN capital cities at the time – Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Singapore – to Brunei.
Three Boeing 757-200s were purchased in the mid-1980s to enable the airline to expand to Taipei in 1986 and Dubai in 1988. They were also used on existing high-capacity routes to Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur; after the introduction of the 757, its smaller sibling was phased out. In 1990, Royal Brunei began its first flight to Europe when services started to Frankfurt am Main via Bangkok and Dubai. Services to London Gatwick Airport commenced in 1990 via Singapore and Dubai, and changed to London Heathrow Airport in 1991, by which time services were inaugurated to Perth and to Jeddah via Dubai.
Rapid expansion: 1992–1996
With the airline's rapid expansion the 737s were sold, replaced by the Boeing 767. Before that, 757-200s served the airline between Brunei, the Middle East and Gatwick.
The delivery of the first Boeing 767 (after a leased 767-200 registered CC-CEX) broke a world record when it flew 17 hours and 22 minutes non-stop from Boeing's factory in Seattle to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi on its way to Brunei. Flight planning, country overflight permit and ground handling services were completed by Steven "Speedy" Beatty of Air Routing International Corporation, Houston, TX.
Seven more 767s were delivered, taking the fleet to eight Boeing 767s and two Boeing 757s (one of the 757s was sold to fund the purchase of the new 767s).
In March 1993, Abu Dhabi was added to the route network, through which flights to Frankfurt and Jeddah were re-routed instead of Dubai. Bali was the second Indonesian city to be added to the network in May during the year. Flights to the third European destination, Zürich, commenced in August 1993 via Kuala Lumpur and another new destination, Bahrain. Before the end of the year, the airline were inaugurated services to Beijing (October) and Cairo (November), via Kuala Lumpur and Bahrain, respectively. RBA sold its last Boeing 737 to Aloha Airlines.
The growth of the network continued in 1994. The delivery of two Fokker 50s were used to start services to Miri and Labuan in East Malaysia of the same year. Flights to Brisbane and Osaka were also commenced in June and December, respectively; (the Brisbane service was initially routed via Darwin but later upgraded to a non-stop flight). The desire to link all the major oil and gas cities on Borneo saw the addition of Balikpapan to the route network in December.
In 1994, services began to Kolkata via Singapore and then on towards Dubai. Two Dornier Do 228s were purchased in the same year and leased to the Malaysian regional carrier, Hornbill Skyways, to connect Brunei by air to Mulu Airport. Services to Cairo and Kolkata (via Singapore) were suspended mid-1995 due to low passenger numbers.
The F-50s were replaced by the larger and more comfortable Fokker 100 in 1996, which fueled expansion to Bintulu. The route to Zürich was suspended in September 1996 to enable Royal Brunei to commence daily services to London Heathrow. Some London flights were routed through Yangon and Abu Dhabi, instead of via Singapore and Dubai; however, Yangon proved uneconomical and was discontinued the following year.
In 6 September 1997, Royal Brunei Airlines Flight 238, a Dornier 228 owned by Royal Brunei Airlines but operated and maintained by Malaysian regional carrier Hornbill Airways, carrying 10 passengers to Miri, crashed into high ground near Miri airport. All 8 passengers and 2 crew died. The Dornier 228s were sold in 1997 and short haul services connecting Brunei to Miri, Labuan, Mulu and Bintulu were terminated.
Later that year, Surabaya was the fourth Indonesian destination to be added. Unprofitable routes to Beijing and Osaka were suspended in 1998 and the F-100s were also sold to Alpi Eagles Airlines in 1998. Kuwait was added to the network in 2000 and was served via Singapore, Kolkata and Dubai. It was suspended a year later. Services also began to Shanghai Pudong International Airport in 2001. Royal Brunei started online booking facilities the same year.
In September 2002 Peter Foster was appointed as CEO. He began major restructuring in 2003, after years of unprofitable operation. The plan was for Royal Brunei’s fleet to grow from 9 to 24 aircraft in a ten-year period, from 2003 to 2013. The fleet of 6 Boeing 767s would be changed to 15 new narrow-body aircraft and 8 wide-body aircraft; half of the new aircraft to be leased and the others to be purchased. The plan also included new services to Auckland, Ho Chi Minh City, Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo, as well as raising frequencies on other flights.
The deliveries of the new Airbus A319 and A320 in 2002 and 2003, respectively, marked the start of the re-equipping exercise. Two new V2500-powered A319s were delivered on 28 August and 3 September. A320s were added on 21 December 2003 and 3 January 2005. All of the Airbus were leased from CIT Aerospace of USA in a seven-year contract, and are deployed mainly on regional routes. With their introduction, the Boeing 757s were phased out and sold to other parties.
On 31 October 2003, a RBA aircraft touched down at Auckland Airport, making it the first destination in New Zealand, and the first new destination added to the network as part of the restructuring exercise. On May the launching of Royal Skies, the airline's frequent-flyer program.
At the end of 2003, Royal Brunei entered a controversial agreement with Royal Tongan Airlines of Tonga. Under the agreement, Royal Tongan wet-leased one of the two remaining Boeing 757s. In return, Royal Brunei was given the opportunity to open up U.S. markets via Tonga. However, before U.S. routes could be planned Royal Tongan went into bankruptcy with huge debts in mid-2004, after less than six months of operation. As Royal Tongan was unable to pay the lease fees, the 757 was repossessed and stored.
Starting in March 2004, four of Royal Brunei’s Boeing 767s were modified by the introduction of SkyDreamer seats in Business Class to replace the old First Class and Business Class Skyluxe seats. Business Class was renamed as Sky Executive Class and in Economy class each seat was installed with an 8.4 inch TV. Sky Executive Class was subsequently renamed Business Class following poor response from the public.
The unprofitable Taipei route was suspended in late 2004. Kuching and Kolkata were dropped on 31 October 2004 due to rising fuel prices, but at the same time, Sydney was added to the route network. Commencing 17 December, flights to Jeddah were routed through Sharjah instead of Abu Dhabi. During the year, the airline launched Blue Sky Fares, a low-cost Internet booking facility, offering cheaper economy class fares on selected destinations, to compete with low-cost carriers in the region, such as AirAsia. In August 2005 Peter Foster resigned as CEO to take up a similar post at another airline.
Royal Brunei added Ho Chi Minh City to its network list in May 2006, a destination served thrice-weekly. In July 2007, RBA appointed a new CEO, Ray Sayer, who would leave the role after just 20 months in the post.
In early September 2007, RBA suspended flights to Frankfurt am Main as part of its latest restructuring exercise. Kuching was reintroduced to the network on 1 December 2007, after a break of three years. Royal Brunei Airlines then suspended services to Darwin on 26 January 2008, after serving the route for 24 years. Sharjah was also dropped from the network early 2008 as Jeddah flights are served non-stop from Bandar Seri Begawan. Shanghai was "suspended" in April 2008, and Sydney and Bali were dropped from the summer schedule of 2008.
On 2 June 2008, Royal Brunei Airlines increased services to Auckland from Bandar Seri Begawan by offering a new three-weekly direct service. This direct service was in addition to increase in frequency of the existing route via Brisbane from three to four times a week. The following year, Robert Yang was appointed as chief executive officer effective from 1 July after the departure of Ray Sayer.
From 28 March 2010 the service to Shanghai resumed with a frequency of four times per week. Auckland was delinked from Brisbane making Auckland 5 times per week and Brisbane 6 times per week. From 17 June 2010, Royal Brunei Airlines introduced ex-Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft to replace the Boeing 767 fleet being returned to their lessors; the inaugural Boeing 777 service was the Bandar Seri Begawan–London/Heathrow service via Dubai, on 17 June. The last of the airline's long-serving Boeing 767s were withdrawn from service on 27 September. Plans were also announced during the year for a four times a week Brunei–Melbourne service with the Boeing 777-200ER, starting from 29 March 2011.
On 12 February 2011, Brudirect.com had reported that Robert Yang had announced his resignation as the CEO of Royal Brunei, with effect from 1 March 2011. Until further notice, the management will report to the deputy chairman, Dermot Mannion.
Stabilisation plan: 2011-present
On 21 June 2011, Royal Brunei Airlines announced that the company was implementing a plan to improve its operations, financial "performance" and customer service experience. As part of the plan, services to Auckland, Brisbane, Perth and Ho Chi Minh City were suspended effective after the last scheduled flights of October 2011. Flights to Kuching were suspended after the last scheduled flight of July 2011. The airline leased two additional Airbus A320s in 2013, together with five Boeing 787s to strengthen and revitalize its regional network and international routes respectively. The first of the five Boeing 787s, with registration number V8-DLA, was delivered on 4 October 2013. All of its Boeing 787 aircraft are powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. On 18 October 2013, the Bandar Seri Begawan - Singapore service was used as the 787's inaugural flight. Flights to London Heathrow via Dubai using the 787s started on 2 December 2013.
On 6 November 2013, Royal Brunei Airlines outlines plans to offer a "100% Dreamliner service" on all of its long haul routes. The airline also begins to eye at Southern India for its next airline expansion. Royal Brunei Airlines, which operates four Airbus A320s and two Airbus A319s as of November 2013, also seeks to expand its short-haul aircraft fleet to "double digits". The airline looks at plans to purchase current-generation Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s. These soon-to-be acquired short-haul aircraft may also be used on flights to Australia as part of its future expansion plan. RB will resumes flight to Bali for four times a week starting July 2014. Effective 17 October 2014, RB will resume another flight to Ho Chi Minh City four times a week, as it looks to use the destination to connect with key regional and international markets.
The airline plans to lease two new Airbus A320 aircraft for delivery in October 2015, to replace two Airbus A319 aircraft. This will mark the start of the programme to modernise the narrowbody fleet, with up to 10 Airbus A320s to be delivered from the end of 2017.
Royal Brunei subsidiaries are companies that are involved in the non-core businesses supporting its aviation business activities such as Royal Brunei Catering, which operates the flight kitchen at Brunei International Airport and Royal Brunei Engineering which provides maintenance and overhaul of aircraft.
- Cathay Pacific/Dragonair
- Garuda Indonesia
- Malaysia Airlines
- Thai Airways International
- Singapore Airlines
- Myanmar Airways International
New UK–Brunei air services agreement
Brunei Darussalam and the United Kingdom agreed to allow more air services between the countries on 23 November 2007, enhancing the two countries' co-operation in the aviation sector. The agreement comes into action with immediate effect. This came off the back of the latest tourism figures of 3,459 European holiday visitor arrivals from January–August 2007, according to Brunei Tourism. The agreement enhances air services and co-operation between the two countries, allowing for the tourism industries and commerce of the two countries to prosper. The U.K. is considered an important gateway for European tourists coming to Brunei. Royal Brunei Airlines operates daily flights between Brunei and London via Dubai. From then on, Royal Brunei Airlines is permitted to serve daily flights on routes between Bandar Seri Begawan and London without any restrictions regarding aircraft type and seat capacity with the end of the previous arrangement. RBA is also allowed to launch four services per week on routes to Manchester if decided at a later date.
|Airbus A320neo||—||7||First delivery in 2018 with 3 additional options|
RB was to lease five brand-new Boeing 787-8 aircraft in 2009, but the Boeing delivery schedule has slipped to 2014. When these aircraft are eventually delivered, RB will be the launch airline for Boeing 787 Dreamliner in South East Asia and with recent deliveries of the Dreamliners, RB will have the distinction of operating the youngest long haul fleet in the world.
Royal Brunei Airlines formerly operated the following aircraft:
- Boeing 737-200
- Boeing 727-200
- Boeing 757-200
- Boeing 767-200/200ER
- Boeing 767-300ER
- Boeing 777-200ER
- Fokker 50
- Fokker 100
SkyLounge is Royal Brunei Airlines' lounge at the Brunei International Airport. It was opened in January 2004 and occupies the entire mezzanine floor at the departure hall (airside) of the airport. The lounge is exclusively reserved for Royal Brunei’s first and business class passengers, and Royal Skies Gold and Silver members. The lounge may also be used by qualifying members of other airlines with an agreement with Royal Brunei Airlines to use the lounge, such as Singapore Airlines.
In-flight service and awards
As the sale of alcohol is forbidden in Brunei, Royal Brunei does not serve alcohol on board its flights. Passengers are however, permitted to bring along their own alcohol for consumption on board. All inflight meals served are halal.
Sky Show is Royal Brunei Airline's in-flight entertainment system based on the Thales Group i-4000 series. These are offered through the 10.4-inch personal TV on the Sky Dreamer seats in the Business class on B777s and 6.5-inch personal TV in Economy class on all B777s. It offers an extensive choice of audio and video programs and features 17 videos on demand selections, five broadcast video channels, 10 games, more than 60 audio-on-demand (AVOD) technology, and twelve channels of continuous audio entertainment in a variety of languages. Every seat in Business class has its own AC laptop power supply. These planes will be returned to Singapore Airlines unreffited from end of 2013.
On the 787s, Business Class seats can be also made into a full flat bed seat with a higher seat pitch than the Business Class seats on the 777. Each seat is also offered with a 15.4-inch, duo function in-seat personal TV (touch screen and remote-controlled capability) along with an in-seat power outlet. Meanwhile, the Economy Class seats can be reclined 6 inches from its upright position with a slightly lower average seat pitch than the 777's Economy Class seats. Offering each seat is a 9-inch, touch screen in-seat personal TV with USB charging capability along with an in-seat power outlet.
Royal Skies is the loyalty programme of Royal Brunei Airlines. Launched in May 2003, members will earn actual miles on every eligible Royal Brunei Airlines’ flight or by utilising the products and/or services of Royal Skies Partners.
Membership is divided into three tiers:
- Blue (Base membership)
- Silver (Silver membership – Elite)
- Gold (Gold membership – Elite)
Royal Skies membership does not expire as long as there is at least one activity recorded in the member’s account within a period of three years.
The Blue card does not carry any expiry date, however, Silver and Gold cards will have an expiry date that shows the end of the benefits period. Silver and Gold members must re-qualify for the Elite tier to continue receiving Elite Status benefits. With the expiration of Elite status benefits, the member will use their Blue card to start earning tier-qualifying miles again. However, the total miles that the member has accumulated so far will not expire.
Miles accrued by Royal Skies members can be redeemed for free flights or seat upgrades. A free upgrade award starts from 5,000 Royal Skies miles, while redemption for a free flight starts from 15,000 miles.
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