MAS SET TO SEAL 42-JET DEAL

Car­rier plans to lease 12 used air­craft and buy up to 30 new planes, says Bellew

New Straits Times - - Business -

KUALA LUMPUR

MALAYSIA Air­lines Bhd (MAS) plans to seal deals for as many as 42 wide­body jets over the next few months as the un­prof­itable car­rier seeks to re­build its long-haul net­work fol­low­ing a surge in de­mand.

Terms should be agreed in the next six to eight weeks for the lease of up to a dozen used Air­bus SE A330 or Boe­ing 777 air­craft, said chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter Bellew in an in­ter­view.

That could be fol­lowed later in the first half by an or­der for 25 to 30 new Boe­ing 787s or A330­neos, as the up­graded Air­bus model is known, po­ten­tially worth more than US$7 bil­lion (RM31 bil­lion).

Bellew is look­ing to ex­pand wide-body op­er­a­tions af­ter the na­tional car­rier slashed its fleet and route net­work in re­sponse to a book­ings slump that fol­lowed two fa­tal plane crashes in 2014.

Sales have now re­cov­ered to the ex­tent that the car­rier posted an 81 per cent load fac­tor in the fourth quar­ter of last year, in­clud­ing a 90 per cent oc­cu­pancy rate in De­cem­ber.

“Things have gone a bit bet­ter a bit quicker than I ex­pected,” said Bellew.

Bellew said MAS would seek to take half a dozen leased wide­bod­ies in the first half of next year, fol­lowed by the same num­ber in 2019, all about six years old.

The 25 or more new jets that Bellew is eval­u­at­ing would likely be bought di­rect from Air­bus or Boe­ing and would join the fleet be­tween 2019 and 2023. The reengined A330­neo comes in two sizes ad­ver­tised at US$255 mil­lion and US$291 mil­lion be­fore dis­counts, while the 787 Dream­liner has three vari­ants priced be­tween US$225 mil­lion and US$306 mil­lion.

The air­line is also poised to take de­liv­ery of six Air­bus A350 wide-bod­ies, al­low­ing it to move the same num­ber of A380 su­per­jum­bos to a new sis­ter car­rier spe­cial­is­ing in car­ry­ing peo­ple on haj and um­rah. Bloomberg

Things have gone a bit bet­ter a bit quicker than I ex­pected.” PETER BELLEW Malaysia Air­lines Bhd chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer

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