Malaysia Airlines is considering doubling Boeing 737 Max order

Malaysia Airlines CEO Captain Izham Ismail: Our future network requires 50 narrowbody aeroplanes, so we have still got space for 25.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Captain Izham Ismail: Our future network requires 50 narrowbody aeroplanes, so we have still got space for 25.

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(Nov 10): Malaysia Airlines Bhd is considering ordering 25 single-aisle jets, probably Boeing Co 737 Max, on top of an existing firm order for 25 of those planes, according to chief executive officer Captain Izham Ismail.

“Our future network requires 50 narrowbody aeroplanes, so we have still got space for 25,” Izham said on the sidelines of an annual meeting of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines in Bangkok. “We have to make some decision by next year.”

Deliveries from the existing Max order are due to begin in 2024. An order for 25 Max costs about US$1.2 billion (RM5.64 billion), based on prices compiled by aircraft appraiser Avitas Inc.  

“We continue to work with our customers to meet their fleet requirements,” a Boeing spokesperson said. “We do not disclose ongoing customer discussions.”

Malaysia Airlines’ passenger traffic is back to 76% of pre-Covid levels, with a full recovery domestically, and should reach 82% by year-end, Izham said. China accounted for 17% of capacity before the pandemic and the country may start reopening by the second quarter next year, Izham said.  

“We don’t have enough aeroplanes,” he said.

The airline is focusing on shifting passenger capacity from domestic to international markets amid concerns of overcapacity among carriers in Malaysia, the CEO said. Other challenges include high fuel prices, rising interest rates and a strong US dollar in 2023.

Malaysia Airlines ordered 20 Airbus SE A330neo widebody planes in August. It hasn’t considered taking any Max jets that Boeing has sought to offload from mainland Chinese carriers, Izham said, citing incompatibility and a lack of consistency with Malaysia Airlines’ plane configurations.

The carrier will remove all Airbus A380s — the world’s biggest passenger jet — from its fleet by the end of this year and return them to the European planemaker, Izham said. Malaysia Airlines has six A380s.