July 6, 2022
New Widebody Aircraft for Malaysia Airlines?

New Widebody Aircraft for Malaysia Airlines?

DALLAS – Malaysia Airlines (MH) is currently weighing options to replace its aging fleet of Airbus A330s and is aiming to make the decision sometime next month.

Malaysia Airlines chief executive Izham Ismail told Reuter’s Jamie Freed, “We are at a late stage of the process. We are looking at one-to-one replacement on our A330 fleet.”

No indication was hinted whether it was for the entire A330 fleet in general or specifically for the A330-200 or the A330-300. What could be a suitable replacement?

Most of MH’s A330s fly from home—Kuala Lumpur (KUL)—to major airports across Australia and New Zealand and rotate again at KUL. KL-Australia is a trunk market for the carrier—connections from nearby countries like India, Singapore, and Thailand fill the planes up. Going by this, the A330 neo series and the -800 would be rather small given the demand. The A330-900, however, could be a fit.

As MH already has the A350s actively flying in its fleet, more of the type would also be efficient as the airline would operate a single wide body. While a Boeing 787 provisional order did exist some years ago, the carrier eventually pulled the plug.

Just like any other airline, the urgency to move to more modern jets is a much-needed strategy for MH. Izham expects his airline to return to a profit in 2023.

Malaysia Airlines 9M-MNF Airbus A380. Photo: Ioan Alonso Gil/Airways

What About MH’s A380s?

It’s nearly a year now since Malayasia Airlines put out its entire A380 fleet on sale, and well, there’s still no buyer.

“We are in conversations with potential buyers. There are inquiries and that remains confidential,” he mentioned to reporters when asked about the six A380-800s on sale at the Aviation Festival event in 2022. The CEO also ruled out the possible option of reintroducing them back to the active fleet and stated they will remain on the ground.

The A380s of MH are not too old; the first one came in sometime in 2012 and the last the following year. In less than a decade, all six were grounded. Would we call it a bad buy or bad timing? Most of the Asian routes saw point-to-point options available, and flying the super jumbo was simply out of the scope here.

Short-lived demand to London Heathrow (LHR) was the sole stable route for the giant but that too got replaced by the A350s that operate until date. The super jumbo’s time in general ran out much too soon and that’s also why there aren’t many interested buyers, especially now with more than ever slot-constrained airports.

The Malaysia Airlines Berhad group in total consists of 102 aircraft – 87 at Malaysia Airlines and the remaining split between group subsidariesMASwings and Firefly’s brands.

“MAS is not a big airline. All our fleets are actually flying… it has been flying even during the pandemic,” he said. 

Feature image: Malaysia Airlines 9M-MNB Airbus A380. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways

EASA commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer based in Germany.

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