Dhaka: Malaysia Airlines is openly talking about replacing its fleet of older technology A330 widebody aircraft. Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Izham Ismail shared the matter on the sidelines of International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting in Qatar recently.
Speaking about replacing the aging Airbus A330s, he said on June 19 that the airline plans to announce a decision on replacing its fleet of 21 Airbus A330 wide-bodies with more fuel-efficient new-generation planes by around mid-to-late July.
"We are in a late stage of the process. We are looking at one-to-one replacement on our A330 fleet," he added.
Malaysia Airlines has a fleet of 96 aircraft, with data showing 68 aircraft are currently in active operation. The total fleet includes six Airbus A330-200s, 15 A330-300s and three A330-200F freighters.
The average age of the A330s ranges from ten to nearly 15 years, and there is only one in storage, an A330-300 registration 9M-MTE.
Apart from the operational efficiencies and customer experience benefits new generation aircraft will bring, Malayasia Airlines has sustainability goals to meet.
Malayasia Airlines' parent, the Malaysian Aviation Group (MAG), is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and sits on the industry task force driving the promotion and adoption of SAF in Malaysia.
The obvious replacements for the A330s are the Airbus A330neo, the A350 or the Boeing B787, and Malaysia previously ordered 787s in 2017, with the order lapsing later. Replacing the A330 and A380 fleets with new-generation aircraft will boost the airline's net-zero by 2050 commitment.
The airline is in a much stronger financial position after a significant restructuring by MAG in 2021. The restructuring reduced the group's liabilities by more than USD 3.4 billion and eliminated USD 2.27 billion of debt.
For the year ended December 31, 2021, MAG reported an EBITDA of USD 98.3 million compared to a loss of USD 400 million in 2020.
It is that solid cash balance, reduced debt and financial restructuring that puts Malaysia Airlines in a sound position to renew its A330 fleet.
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