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. It is wholly owned by the Government of Brunei. Its home base is the Brunei International Airport in Berakas, just to the north of the capital city of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan.
Three Boeing 757 aircraft were purchased in the mid 1980s to enable the airline to expand to Taipei in 1986, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 1988. In 1990, Royal Brunei began their first flight to Europe when they started services to Frankfurt, Germany, via Bangkok and Dubai. Services to London Gatwick Airport commenced in 1990 via Singapore and Dubai, and changed to London Heathrow Airport in 1991. Also in 1991 routes opened to Perth, Western Australia, and to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, via Dubai.
In March 1993, Abu Dhabi was added to the route network and flights to Frankfurt and Jeddah were routed through Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai. Bali was the second Indonesian city to be added to the network in May of the same year. Flights to the third destination in Europe, Zürich, commenced in August 1993 via Kuala Lumpur and another new destination Bahrain. Before the end of the year, services to Beijing, China (October), and Cairo, Egypt (November), via Kuala Lumpur and Bahrain, were inaugurated. Royal Brunei sold its last Boeing 737-200s to Aloha Airlines of Hawaii in 1993.
The growth of the network continued in 1994. The delivery of two Fokker 50 aircraft were used to start services to Miri and Labuan in East Malaysia of the same year. Flights to Brisbane, Australia, and Osaka, Japan, commenced the same year in June and December respectively (the Brisbane service was initially routed via Darwin but later upgraded to a nonstop 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 1995, services began to Kolkata (Calcutta), India, via Singapore and then on towards Dubai. Two Dornier 228s were purchased in the same year and leased to the Malaysian regional carrier, Hornbill Airways, to connect Brunei by air to Mulu. The service to Cairo was suspended in the middle 1995 due to low passenger numbers.
The F-50s were replaced by the larger and more comfortable F-100 jets 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 of the flights to London were routed through Yangon, Burma, and Abu Dhabi, instead of via Singapore and Dubai. Yangon proved uneconomic and was dropped from the route the following year.
Unprofitable routes to Beijing and Osaka were suspended in 1998 and the F-100s were also sold off 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.
For 2004 to 2010, Royal Brunei will invest US$400 million to buy wide-bodied aircraft. For the year 2008 to 2013, Royal Brunei will invest US$200 million to buy narrow-bodied aircraft to replace the current fleet of B767-300 aircraft and also further increase the number of narrow-bodied aircraft.
In 2003, the deliveries of the new Airbus A319 and A320 marked the start of the re-equipping exercise. Two A319s were delivered on August 28 and September 3. A320s were added December 9 and January 3, 2005. All of the Airbus were leased from CIT Aerospace of USA in a seven year contract. The Airbuses fly mainly on regional routes. With the introduction of new aircraft, the Boeing 757 has been phased out and sold to other parties.
In May 2003, Royal Skies, the airlines’ frequent flyer programme, was launched.
On 31st Oct 2003, a Royal Brunei jet touched down at Auckland International Airport making it the first destination in New Zealand and the first new destination added to the network as part of the restructuring exercise.
By end of the year 2003, Royal Brunei entered a controversial agreement with Royal Tongan Airlines of Tonga. Under the agreement, Royal Tongan Airlines was to wet-lease one of the two remaining B757s of Royal Brunei. In return, Royal Brunei was given the opportunities to open its market to the US. The deal did not happen because Royal Tongan Airlines went into bankruptcy with huge debt in mid 2004, after less than 6 months of operation. As Royal Tongan Airlines was unable to pay the fees, the B757 was repossessed and stored in Auckland International Airport.
In January 2004, the airline launched Blue Sky Fares, a low cost Internet booking facility, offering cheaper economy class fares to selected destinations, to compete with low cost carriers in the region, such as AirAsia.
Starting in March 2004, four of Royal Brunei’s Boeing 767 aircraft 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 Oct 2004 due to the rising oil prices, but at the same time, Sydney was added to the route network. Commencing 17th December, flights to Jeddah were routed through Sharjah instead of Abu Dhabi .
The last B757 was retired from the Royal Brunei fleet in early 2005.
In early September 2007, RBA temporarily suspended flights to Frankfurt as part of its restructuring exercise. Kuching was reintroduced to the network on the 1st of December 2007, after a break of 3 years.
Royal Brunei Airlines suspended services to Darwin on 26th January 2008, after serving the route for 24 years. Sharjah was also dropped from the network early 2008 when Jeddah flights were routed directly to and from Bandar Seri Begawan. However, Shanghai was "suspended" in April 2008, and Sydney and Bali were dropped from the summer schedule of 2008.
Royal Brunei Airlines was to acquire Boeing 777 extended range aircraft on lease. The first of four Boeing 777-200s for Royal Brunei rolled out from the paintshop in late April 2007, however the lease deal fell through. The B777 aircraft were to be used on the long-haul routes to Europe and Australia to vastly improve RBA's capabilities by offering a higher passenger and cargo load capacity.
On 2nd June 2008, Royal Brunei Airlines increased services to Auckland from Bandar Seri Begawan by offering a new direct service three times a week. This direct service is in addition to increase in frequency of the existing route via Brisbane from three to four times a week.
|BMI||Belfast, Edinburgh, Teeside, London, Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester||bmi|
|Dragonair||Hong Kong||Royal Brunei Airlines|
|Malaysia Airlines||Kuala Lumpur||Royal Brunei and Malaysia Airlines|
|Philippine Airlines||Manila||Royal Brunei Airlines|
|Thai||Bangkok||Royal Brunei Airlines|
|2||Airbus A319-132||(V8-RBP,V8-RBR) (8J/114Y)|
|2||Airbus A320-232||(V8-RBS,V8-RBT) (12J/132Y)|
|1||Boeing 757-2M6||(4K-AZ43) (24J/150Y) Leased to Azerbaijan Airlines|
|4||Boeing 767-33AER||(V8-RBF,V8-RBG,V8-RBH,V8-RBJ) (23J/182Y) SkyDreamer & SkyShow (AVOD)|
|1||Boeing 767-33AER||(V8-RBL) (23J/182Y) 'Gold Service' Business & SkyShow (Mainscreen)|
|1||Boeing 767-33AER||(V8-RBK) (18J/231Y) 'Gold Service' Business & SkyShow (Mainscreen)|
|0 (4 on order)||Boeing 787-8M6||To be leased from LCAL Leasing Co.|
When the four brand-new Boeing 787-8 aircraft are delivered in 2009, Royal Brunei will begin looking into beginning new long-haul, non-stop services to Europe.
Membership is divided into three tiers:
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.
Business Class The Business Class seats on the refurbished extended range Boeing 767s are equipped with SkyDreamer seats. These seats extend to 75 inches when fully reclined. The podded seat also feature and a personal pull-up screen provide extra privacy, and has an in-seat power connector and a 10.4 inch personal TV..
Economy Class Economy Class in the retrofitted B767 aircraft offer seats with a 32-inch pitch, adjustable footrests and "winglet" headrests for improved neck comfort. Each seat also has a 8.4 inch personal TV which provides on-going entertainment including audio and video on-demand choices.
Royal Brunei Airlines was 'Runner Up' to Hawaiian Airlines for 'Best Entertainment for the Main Screen' category as determined by an international media panel, sponsored by the World Airline Entertainment Association (VVAEA), that evaluated in-flight audio, video, magazine and interactive media from leading passenger airlines worldwide. RBA was nominated in the following three categories: Best In-Flight Audio Entertainment, Best Entertainment for the Main Screen and Best Overall In-Flight Entertainment (Small Fleet, 24 or fewer aircraft).
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 overhall of aircraft.