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Malaysia Airlines’ first A350 being moved from the paint shop in Toulouse (Photo: Jujug Spotting)

Malaysia Airlines, AFI KLM E&M Renew Partnership As Airline Weighs Fleet Future

Malaysia Airlines is further extending its longstanding partnership with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) by signing a component support contract for its Boeing 737 fleet. Under its new long-term contract, AFI KLM E&M is to provide component solutions to Malaysia Airlines, including repair and logistics.

The component support solutions are carried out through the Component Services Programme (CSP) which is jointly operated by AFI KLM E&M and American aircraft manufacturing, Boeing. The services agreed upon will include component repair and access to AFI KLM E&M’s local and main spare part tools, located in Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam respectively.

“The support implemented by AFI KLM E&M for our fleet of 737-800s stands out both for its service quality and responsiveness to fulfilling our needs for specific component services and support to ensure operational continuity, so it was a logical decision to extend our cooperation,” said Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Operations Officer Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi.

Currently, Malaysia’s national carrier has a total of 44 Boeing 737-800NG in its fleet, 27 of which are in service and 17 of which are parked, according to planespotters.net.

The airline is also going to be taking deliveries of 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft starting from 2024 or earlier, according to Malaysian outlet Global Times, depending on when the issues regarding the problematic aircraft will be fully resolved and passenger confidence restored.

“We’re committed to take the MAX’s delivery in 2024, but we are also exploring the possibility of taking it earlier,” Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Izham Ismail said in a virtual press conference.

Deliveries of the 737 MAX were initially scheduled for July last year, but the aircraft was grounded globally after two tragic crashes, and several airlines and lessors canceled their orders. With Malaysia Airlines still seeing its order through, many have speculated on whether or not the troubled aircraft was the right fit for the airline, suggesting that smaller aircraft such as the Airbus A220 would probably be better.

The decision to stay the course with the orders could be due to the fact that with the Covid-19 pandemic still putting a slight halt on international air travel, the fate of widebody aircraft remains uncertain for most airlines going forward, with daily utilization rates on the lower end compared to normal.

Furthermore, pandemic safety regulations such as “safe seat spaces” for passengers have resulted in airlines looking to make quick switches to smaller aircraft for lower overall expenses and to maximize revenue per passenger. And with Malaysia’s vast domestic air travel market, the outlook of using a workhorse medium-haul aircraft such as the 737 MAX would still seem logical.

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