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A Malaysia Airlines A350 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Ben Suskind)

Malaysia Airlines Extends Widebody FHS Contract with Airbus

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Malaysia Airlines have signed a five-year extension of its Flight Hour Services Components contract for the carrier’s wide-body fleets, which consists of the Airbus A330-300s and the A350-900s. The extension will also include the A330-200Fs operated by the carrier’s cargo counterpart, MASKargo.

This comes as a result from the Malaysian carrier’s recently completed restructuring exercise and the agreement was signed in Kuala Lumpur by Airbus President Asia-Pacific Anand Stanley and Malaysia Airlines Chief Operations Officer Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi.

Maintaining Ties with Airbus

The multi-year extension will cover full technical support from Airbus for the carrier’s current operating widebody fleet of twenty A330-300s, three A350-900s and two A330-200Fs for cargo, with Airbus providing component services such as spare pool access, on-site stock at the main base and components engineering and repairs.

Through the contract, Airbus promises MAS part availability and maintains aircraft technical performance, all thanks to better quality standards and component engineering.

“We are pleased to extend our partnership with Airbus and trust the brand to provide vital technical support for our widebody fleet. As we move forward as an airline and share our Malaysian hospitality worldwide, the Airbus aircraft we fly will become a symbol of reliability and consistency,” said Malaysia Airlines Chief Operations Officer Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi.

“We are pleased to continue our close relationship with Malaysia Airlines with the extension of this FHS agreement, especially in these challenging times, Airbus strives to provide value-added and tailor-made solutions to our airline partners to help them ensure increased operational reliability,” said Anand Stanley, President Airbus Asia-Pacific.

Anand also told a media briefing that Airbus was working with its financially-strapped airline customers across the world to find solutions as they struggle to sustain during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Facing Challenges

Prior to the pandemic, MAS was already facing numerous financial challenges and was struggling to make profitability due to an unfortunate string of accidents that included the still-unsolved disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 in 2014, which forced the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, paying RM1.38 billion to take the airline private.

Recovery plans to make the airline profitable again kept ending in failure with many contributing factors such as an overcapacity in the aviation industry, crew shortages, volatility in fuel prices and foreign exchange. As a result, the airline group CEO, Captain Izham Ismail, needed a government intervention to save it, either by managing the market capacity or selling the national carrier to refinance its debts.

AS saw even more troubling times as its debt grew on and having to undertake several measures to save on costs including massive salary cuts, encouraging no-pay leave and renegotiating contracts for the airline to survive. To keep afloat till the pandemic rides out, the airline revisited its long-term business plan in an effort to restructure financially. The restructuring included reworking its network and making changes in its then-current fleet to cope with unpredictable traffic demands in the future.

As partnerships get renewed and air travel slowly coming back with special travel passes and vaccinations worldwide, MAS would hopefully be able to sustain with its domestics flights, cargo shipments and eventually, an increase in international flights.

Charlotte Seet
Charlotte Seet
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