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When most Americans think of Malaysia Airlines, our thoughts immediately go to the airline’s terrible losses in 2014. After all, the disappearance of MH370 and shooting down of MH17 are hard to forget.
However, the airline has moved on from those tragedies — going from being “technically bankrupt” in 2015 to an airline that’s growing once again. Those of us who’ve flown Malaysia aren’t surprised. On long-haul and short-haul routes, we’ve experienced friendly service and good food.
Turns out, Malaysia Airlines has experienced so much growth that it doesn’t have enough aircraft to match all of the demand.
In addition to purchasing six second-hand Airbus A330s this week, the airline said it’s in “early negotiations with Airbus and Boeing for the purchase of 35-40 new long-range jets.” Reportedly, the decision is coming down to either the ~290-seat Boeing 787-9 or the ~287-seat Airbus A330-900neo. However, the airline isn’t sure that its getting the best deal and is concerned that neither Boeing or Airbus will deliver enough planes on time.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew explains it simply: “We just need lift.” (Lift is the industry term for available seats.) Even after buying six used A330s, it seems the airline is still short of empty seats for its aggressive regional expansion plans.
This purchase of 40+ long-haul aircraft is a huge deal for an airline that currently has just 26 long-haul aircraft in active rotation (18 Airbus A330s, 6 Airbus A380s — which it recently considered selling — and 2 Boeing 747s).
According to AirFleets, Malaysia has an additional 24 wide-body aircraft currently stored, half of which are (understandably) Malaysia’s retired 777 fleet, which was the aircraft type involved in both 2014 tragedies. Another three are Boeing 747-400s, which are known for their fuel inefficiency compared to modern aircraft. There are also eight Airbus A330-300s in storage, a peculiar situation since the airline claims to be in dire need of aircraft.
One thing’s for sure — Malaysia Airlines seems to have turned itself around. From disastrous tragedies in 2014 to near-bankruptcy in 2015, the airline is back and growing faster than many of us would expect.
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