Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) is in the midst of finalizing a partnership with an undisclosed foreign government, the Brunei flag carrier said as it ramps up partnerships and innovation in a competitive ecosystem.

Speaking at the Future Travel Experience (FTE) Asia exhibition in Singapore, RBA CEO Karam Chand said the partnership will be finalized and announced in four to six weeks.

Chand described the landscape in Southeast Asia as very challenging because of numerous larger and mature airlines, not only competing in the region but also on the Kangaroo Route between the UK and Australia. He said it is through true hospitality that the airline can set itself aside from competitors.

As a relatively small airline, in terms of fleet and manpower size, RBA must draw expertise internationally, such as engaging Saatchi for advertising and launching marketing campaigns from Singapore companies.

“As a small airline, partners are important,” he added. “Codeshares are important to help with our revenue as well.”

Even though the airline is not a member of any alliance, RBA has interline partnerships with 41 carriers that include Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

He described RBA’s new partnership with Malindo Air as a form of “innovation,” as the airline still is able to expand its network without hiring new crew and acquiring aircraft. Under the partnership, RBA wet leased two ATR 72-600s for regional flights within the Borneo island.

Chand said as competition increases, yields have decreased, and it is important to learn from LCCs on how to increase ancillary revenue as well. Currently, none of the carrier’s Airbus A320s and Boeing 787s have inflight Wi-Fi connectivity, as take-up rate is “still very small.” However, RBA is looking to propose a business case for capability in areas such as aircraft maintenance and engineering data transmission.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com