Malaysia Airlines is to acquire 20 Airbus A330neo widebodies as part of renewal plans for its medium-haul fleet.
The 20 aircraft will comprise 10 leased from lessor Avolon and another 10 direct orders with Airbus. Avolon will acquire the remaining 10 jets through a sale-and-leaseback transaction.
The first A330neo is expected to enter the fleet in 2024, and will replace the Oneworld carrier’s existing fleet of 21 A330s.
The Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered jets will be configured in a two-class “premium layout” with 300 passengers, and will operate flights within Asia, as well as to the Pacific and Middle East.
Calling the aircraft order a “significant milestone” in Malaysia Airlines’ post-restructuring plans, airline chief Izham Ismail says: “The acquisition of the A330neo is a natural transition from our current A330ceo fleet. The A330neo will not only provide fleet modernisation and enhanced operational efficiency, but will also meet environmental targets through reduced fuel-burn per seat, while keeping passenger safety and comfort at its core.”
Adds Airbus commercial chief Christian Scherer: “The decision is a clear endorsement of the A330neo as the most efficient option in this size category for premium operations. It’s also the clear winner in terms of in-flight comfort and we are looking forward to working with Malaysia Airlines to define an exceptional cabin experience.”
The airline’s medium-haul fleet replacement has been talked about for the past few months, with Izham telling FlightGlobal in June that the airline was at “the tail end” of discussions with airframers over replacements for its A330ceo fleet.
The move makes Malaysia Airlines the second A330neo operator in the country, after compatriot AirAsia X, which in April significantly cut its orders for the widebody.
Other Asian operators of the type include Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, as well as low-cost operator Cebu Pacific.
Separately, Airbus and Malaysia Airlines have also signed an agreement to a wider collaboration in the areas of sustainability, training, maintenance and airspace management.