Malaysia Airlines to recommission B747-400

5 Apr 2016 by Alex McWhirter

Over the past few years global airlines have retired their iconic B747 jumbo jets in favour of newer A380s and B777-300ERs.

But one airline has taken a different approach.

Malaysia Airlines (MAB) has become the exception to the rule by reactivating one of its former B747-400s.

Although the news has been rumoured for the past few weeks (see our Online Forum),  today the story has broken in Malaysia’s New Straits Times.

It might seem a strange move for MAB to recommission one of its former aircraft.

But MAB has little choice. While its fleet of six A380s undergoes maintenance over the coming months it will have no spare aircraft suitable of operating non-stop to Europe or Saudi Arabia (the destination for its pilgrim flights) should a problem occur.

Of the carrier’s six A380s no fewer than four are required for the London route. That leaves only one spare A380 and this is often occupied by operating the pilgrim flights to Saudi Arabia.

What about MAB’s B777-200s or A330s ? Well the former have now been retired from service while the latter aircraft (the variant operated by MAB) do not have the range to fly non-stop to Europe.

Initially the reactivated B747-400 will be run-in on selected domestic routes. Social media in Malaysia talks about the B747-400 being used between Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuala Terengganu, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

On the matter of international flying the Malaysian media is more guarded.

According to New Straits Times “the retro livery aircraft will be used as an operational spare aircraft to be assigned on an ad hoc basis to destinations as and when required.”

In short it means that this B747-400 could make a one-off appearance the London route as a last minute A380 replacement.

Alex McWhirter

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