MAS ponders longer-range A330 proposal as 777 replacement

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Malaysia Airlines is evaluating whether to standardise on the Airbus A330 for its widebody operations, and could order a longer-range version if Airbus decides to develop one.

"We want to rationalise the fleet - I hate running an airline with too many aircraft types," says Malaysia Airlines group chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

Speaking in London at an event to mark the introduction of the carrier's A380 on Kuala Lumpur-Heathrow services, Yahya said that this will see the airline focus on ATR turboprops and Boeing 737-800s for its regional and narrowbody operations, but the plan for the widebodies was still being evaluated.

"We are looking at the widebodies. We have 15 A330s on order, but the question right now is how will we replace our Boeing 777-200ERs, which are pretty long in the tooth," says Yahya.

Although some of the airline's 777 routes could "easily be flown by the A330", Yahya says that he is waiting to see what Airbus decides to do about developing the twinjet to operate longer-haul flights. "The A330 is a good 11h aircraft, and the question we are asking Airbus is whether it can be used on longer missions. We'd like hear what Airbus is going to say at Farnborough about this."

MAS currently operates 21 A330-200/300s and 17 777-200ERs. Yahya says that if Airbus says "something positive" about the creation of a longer-range A330 "there's no reason why we couldn't order more aircraft to replace the 777s".