Malaysia Airline to launch A380 pilgrimage unit

A Monitor Desk Report 07 May, 2017  |    -      +
Dhaka : Malaysia Airlines is to launch a A380 pilgrimage subsidiary, but still needed to figure out reconfiguration costs with Airbus, airline CEO, Peter Bellew said on May 5.

The Malaysia Airline chief said all key personnel for the offshoot, apart from a chief executive, have been appointed and are likely to be announced by May 12.

The A380s will be fitted with more than 700 seats in an all-economy layout, but can be reconfigured in "four to five days" to 635 seats across economy and business class, Bellew said. "We're hoping to come to a good agreement with Airbus on the reconfiguration cost on the aircraft," the Irishman said. "I'll still need some more help from them on that."

The A380-only subsidiary will have to operate hajj and umrah flights approximately 180-190 days a year to break even, Bellew said. When not heading to Saudi Arabia, the charter carrier would operate non-pilgrimage flights, he added, identifying Barcelona, Rome and London Stansted as potential destinations, but also shuttling tour groups from China to Disneyland, for instance.

MAB has six A380s. It operates four of them on double daily London rotations while the other two are not in active scheduled service. The carrier has tried to sell or lease them but did not receive any acceptable offers.

It will replace the A380s with six A350s on lease. These were supposed to arrive at MAB’s Kuala Lumpur headquarters in October, but seat supplier delays have put first delivery forward to December.

Bellew is also planning a 30-35 wide body order, but he is not satisfied with the offers received from Airbus and Boeing to date. MAB is considering the A330neo, A350 and B787-9.

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