Malaysia Airlines is poised to take delivery of a number of widebody aircraft in 2018 and 2019 to cater to increased international sales. The changes have been detailed in the airline’s first quarter 2017 report, in which it confirmed a year-on-year passenger increase of 12.9 per cent.
According to the Malaysian flag carrier, its fleet of A330-300s are in need of replacement and increased capacity by late 2019, and the airline is currently in discussions with Airbus and Boeing. Direct purchases or leases of A330neo and B787-9 Dreamliners are both on the cards.
This comes as Malaysia Airlines is already set to upgrade its fleet with A350s and Boeing’s recently launched B737 Max 8.
At present, a total of six leased new A350s are due to be received, with the first arriving at the end of this year. While Malaysia Airlines had earmarked Auckland and Tokyo for the initial routes, the quarterly report notes they will be deployed on the airline’s flagship service to London Heathrow starting in the second quarter of 2018.
Meanwhile, the airline has a firm order for 25 B737 Max 8 aircraft. The aircraft is “anticipated to be a game changer on costs for Malaysia Airlines” according to the company – fellow Malaysian carrier Malindo Airlines recently became the first airline to fly the Max 8 commercially. Malaysia Airlines expects delivery of these aircraft to begin from the fourth quarter of 2019.
Along with the 54 Boeing 737-800s and 15 A330-300s in its fleet, Malaysia Airlines’ six A380s are also set for change. In the third quarter of 2017, the airline will be mounting additional adhoc services to Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon using the A380 to meet excess demand during the peak period.
According to the airline, the A380 will continue to operate its double-daily London services during this time, though due to runway restrictions its services to Jeddah will be operated by the A330.
As previously reported, Malaysia Airlines plans to eventually shift these six aircraft to a separate company in Q3 2018, initially focused on pilgrimage traffic on the Hajj and Umrah to Saudi Arabia. The new entity is being described as “the world’s first ultra-high capacity value airline”, that will reputedly offer high-quality service with low seat costs.
This is a route that has recently seen an upgauge from Saudia Airlines as well. Earlier this month, the airline confirmed it would be deploying its B787-9 Dreamliner on its Jeddah, Riyadh and Medina flights to Kuala Lumpur.
South Korea and Japan are not the only North Asia countries Malaysia Airlines is focusing on. A total of 11 new routes to China are due to be introduced this year alone. Along with its previously announced Wuhan, Fuzhou and Nanjing services set to begin in June and July, the airline will be flying additional services to Chengdu and Chongqing starting this October. Meanwhile, its service between Kota Kinabalu and Tianjin is scheduled to take off in the third quarter of this year, along with “two new additional services from Penang to new Chinese markets”.
These changes follow the introduction of the A330-300 to the airline’s Hong Kong route last October, along with the recent introduction of a second service to Shanghai and a new Haikou service.
According to its quarter one report, Malaysia Airlines is “still on track to be sustainably profitably by 2018”.
[Edit: The article previously stated Malaysia Airlines would be removing the A380 from its London, Jeddah and Medina routes when it begins operating the aircraft on its South Korea and Japan services.]