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Malaysia Airlines to acquire 20 Airbus A330neos as part of fleet renewal program

It had been long rumoured that Malaysia Airlines was looking to buy Airbus A330neos to replace its ageing A330s. Well, today, Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), the parent company of Malaysia Airlines, has placed an order for 20 Airbus A330-900 aircraft for the airline’s fleet renewal program.

The agreement covers the acquisition 20 A330-900 aircraft, with 10 to be purchased from Airbus and 10 to be leased from Dublin-based Avolon. The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to MAG starting from the third quarter of 2024 through to 2028.

The announcement was made at an event in Kuala Lumpur, attended by MAG CEO Izham Ismail and Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International Christian Scherer, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the aircraft to be ordered from Airbus. The agreements with engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and Avolon were also signed at the ceremony.

Powered by the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, the A330neo will join Malaysia Airlines’ fleet of 6 Airbus A350-900s and gradually replace its 21 A330ceo aircraft. The carrier will operate the A330neo on its network covering Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. The airline will configure its A330neo fleet in a 2-class layout seating 300 passengers.

After an extensive technical evaluation, and a very competitive process, we are delighted to have reached a strategic agreement with our partners on the renewal of our widebody fleet through the acquisition of 20 A330neos. The innovative, cost effective,successful tripartite approach offers a holistic solution to fleet owners that is financially viable for MAG as we secure a lower and stable cost base, and with assurance of support financing. The acquisition of the A330neo is a natural transition from our current A330ceo fleet. The A330neo will not only provide fleet modernisation and enhanced operational efficiency, but will also meet environmental targets through reduced fuel-burn per seat, while keeping passenger safety and comfort at its core. This is a significant milestone as MAG moves towards the successful execution of our Long-Term Business Plan 2.0 to position itself as a leading aviation services Group within the region.

said Izham Ismail, CEO, MAG.

In addition to the renewal of the widebody fleet, Airbus and MAG also signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to study a wider collaboration in the areas of sustainability (including sustained fuel), training, maintenance and airspace management.

Malaysia Airlines is one of the great Asian carriers and we are proud and humbled to be its preferred supplier of widebody aircraft. The decision is a clear endorsement of the A330neo as the most efficient option in this size category for premium operations. It’s also the clear winner in terms of in-flight comfort and we are looking forward to working with Malaysia Airlines to define an exceptional cabin experience.

said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International, Airbus.

Related: Virgin Atlantic unveils stunning new seats on the new Airbus A330neo

The Trent 7000, which first entered service in November 2018, is the latest engine in the Trent family. Benefitting from the highest bypass ratio of any Trent engine, the Trent 7000 offers a 14% fuel burn improvement per seat compared to its predecessor and will significantly reduce aircraft noise. It is already certified to operate on a fifty per cent blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

We are delighted that MAG has selected the Trent 7000 powered Airbus A330neo for their future fleet. With excellent fuel burn performance and great reliability, the Trent 7000 is the perfect choice to support the airline’s growth aspirations. We are also incredibly proud to provide their fleet with reliable and predictable maintenance services under our TotalCare package, and look forward to working closely with them in the future.

said Ewen McDonald, Chief Customer Officer of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace.

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The A330neo is the new generation version of the popular A330 widebody aircraft. Incorporating the latest generation engines, a new wing and a range of aerodynamic innovations, the aircraft offers 25% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2-emissions. The A330-900 is capable of flying 7,200nm / 13,300km non-stop.

The A330neo also features the innovative Airspace cabin, providing passengers with a new level of comfort, ambience and design. This includes offering more personal space, larger overhead bins, a new lighting system and the ability to offer the latest in-flight entertainment systems and full connectivity. As with all Airbus aircraft, the A330neo also features a state-of-the-art cabin air system ensuring a clean and safe environment during the flight.

Today’s announcement builds on our longstanding relationships with industry leaders such as MAG, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, and we are delighted to partner with them to deliver a unique portfolio solution that will support MAG’s operations and business growth. As the Asian aviation market continues to emerge from the pandemic, this A330neo transaction will help MAG renew its fleet and position them to capitalise on market recovery. The enhanced fuel-efficiency and performance, as well as the unit cost improvements of the A330neo compared to older generation aircraft, will allow MAG to meet the growing demand for air travel in the region – further strengthening their position as one of the leading carriers of choice in the Asia Pacific market. As previously disclosed, we are experiencing a rapid recovery in demand for our orderbook slots for both our single and twin-aisle new technology aircraft, and we are delighted to partner with MAG on this milestone transaction.

said Andy Cronin, Chief Executive Designate, Avolon.

MAG currently owns a fleet size of 106 aircraft system-wide, of which there are 24 A330s – six A330-200s, 15 A330-300s and three A330Fs, utilised by airlines under the Group, Malaysia Airlines and AMAL by Malaysia Airlines as well as its cargo arm, MABkargo. The A330 first entered service with Malaysia Airlines in 1995.

Thoughts on Malaysia Airlines’ A330neo order

It had long been in the news that Malaysia Airlines was looking to acquire A330neos or B787 Dreamliners to replace its A330ceo fleet. The selection of A330neo over B787 is a natural decision, given that the airline already operates A330ceos, meaning that it will be easy for the airline’s A330 pilots to transit from A330ceo to A330neo.

As aforementioned, Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A330-900s will seat 300 passengers in a 2-class configuration. It’s surprising to see that Malaysia Airlines is not considering to install Premium Economy Cabin on the new A330-900s. Premium Economy Class is increasingly gaining popularity over time and airlines all around the world from SWISS to Emirates are installing Premium Economy seats on their aircraft. Even Singapore Airlines, its neighbouring airline and a competitor, has Premium Economy on some of its aircraft.

Ir remains to be seen whether the airline will introduce new Business and Economy Class seats, given that Malaysia Airlines has already begun refreshing the Boeing B737-800NG cabin. All in all, it’s great to see the airline acquire A330neos and move to a more sustainable fleet. In the future, Malaysia Airlines’ fleet will consist of Airbus A350-900s, A330-900s and Boeing B737MAXs.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines recently launched flights to Tokyo Haneda.

Featured image by Airbus

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