Malaysia Airlines has settled on the Airbus A350 as a cornerstone of its future fleet, signing a lease agreement for four of the advanced jets to begin flying from late 2017.
The A350-900s will be sourced through Air Lease Corporation, in a deal which also sees the Malaysian flag-carrier holding lease options for two more A350-900s as well as two A330-900neo aircraft.
The delivery timeframe spans from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the middle of 2018, and will see the A350s fitted with new business class seats which the airline describes as having “very large dimensions, and will be positioned above the industry standard for business class.”
“The A350 is the most technologically advanced aircraft and we are confident that it will deliver exceptional passenger comfort and improve the overall efficiency of our fleet” said Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller in welcoming the deal.
‘Efficiency’ is a word set to echo through the halls of Malaysia Airlines as Mueller works to re-invent the troubled airline through what he describes as “hard reset” program.
This has already included plans to 6,000 jobs from its 20,000-strong workforce, putting two near-new Airbus A380s and four Boeing 777-200ER jets up for sale, and embarking on a series of lounge closures including Singapore and Perth.
MAS has racked up debts approaching $1.5 billion since 2011, with a dire situation worsened by last year’s twin tragedies of the disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of MH17.
The airline was nationalised in late 2014 by Malaysia’s government-owned investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which has pledged a A$2 billion injection to fund the dramatic restructure aimed at returning the airline to profitability by 2017.
Australian Business Traveller