PHOTO: Airbus.

LONDON – The Memorandum of Understanding that Malaysia Airlines had signed with Boeing for eight 787 Dreamliners valued at US$2.25 billion at list prices has lapsed. 

Now, the Malaysian carrier is looking to add an additional 20 to 30 long-haul, widebody planes from either Boeing or Airbus, to replace its aging fleet of 23 Airbus A330-200/300s.

Courtesy of Malaysia Airlines.

The airline’s CEO, Izham Ismail, issued a request for information from Boeing and Airbus on its newest long-haul widebody aircraft.

For the carrier, buying Boeing airplanes would be an expansion in operational strategy, especially with the 48 Boeing 737s that it currently has in its fleet.

However, with a fleet of 23 Airbus A330s, the newer, re-engined version (A330neo) would be the most logical choice as far as fleet commonality and crew training are concerned.

Moreover, Malaysia Airlines operates six Airbus A350-900s, tilting the balance in favor of the European manufacturer.

The airline is also trying to achieve profitability, but the increasing pressure from higher fuel prices, volatility of currencies and overcapacity in domestic markets is acting as a strong headwind.

Malaysia Airlines remains hopeful that it can return to a profit, and that ordering more fuel-efficient aircraft should contribute to any potential cost-savings in the long-term.

Disasters such as MH17 and MH370 have made it difficult for the carrier to return back to profit, especially on the reputational front too.

Should Malaysia Airlines choose the Airbus A330neo against the lapsed Boeing 787s, it could be considered as a significant blow for the American manufacturer.