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A Malaysia Airlines A350 prepares for testing in Toulouse (Photo: Airbus)

Malaysia Airlines Evaluating Options for Fleet Modernization

Malaysia Airlines is moving a step closer to modernizing its 21 Airbus A330s — replacing them with more fuel-efficient aircraft. The new flights are expected to lower carbon emissions. The airline owns 15 Airbus A330-300s and six Airbus A330-220s among its fleet of 87 aircraft.

“We are in a late stage of the process. We are looking for a one-to-one replacement on our A330 fleet,” Izham Ismail, the Chief Executive Officer of the carrier, said. Ismail hasn’t provided more details on the acquisition of the new aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The airline recorded a growth of more than 100% in ticket sales and an 80 percent load factor on most flights since the country had reopened its border in April. After two deadly incidents in 2014, the struggling airline has experienced the worst to report positive cash flow since October. The airline is looking forward to turning in the black in 2023.

Since the Malaysian carrier has started returning to the skies, the customers have been suffering from the long waiting time of the airline’s call center. Malaysia Airlines has committed to providing a better service to its customers, promising to waive the offline booking fees for customers who experience a waiting time of more than 10 minutes. In addition, the airline is determined to take measures to meet the growing consumer demands and work closely with the airports around the country. The flag carrier has set a goal of reaching 76% of its capacity by the end of the year.

Airlines around the globe have been facing the same problems in the post-pandemic: The shortage of staff. According to the airline, it was “fortunate” that the carrier didn’t lay off its employees during the pandemic and expected the aviation industry needs six months to return to normal.

“What we did was we reduced senior executive salaries to support the lower incomes,” Ismail added.

Some airlines have grounded their aircraft in long term as a result of the pandemic. While the travel restrictions were lifted around the globe, the carrier couldn’t bring the aircraft on time, as the planes normally need 30-90 days to return to service. Ismail explained what the aviation sector has been facing.

Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), the parent company of Malaysia Airlines, determined to restructure the airline last year, cutting debt by more than half as part of the plan agreed with the creditors.

In response to the airline restructuring, MAG announced to sell the airline’s six Airbus A380 aircraft and components last July. However, Malaysia Airlines did not sign a deal after discussing it with some potential buyers. Ismail hasn’t revealed further information on the jumbo flights. In the meantime, six A380s are currently being grounded.

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