Today, Malaysia Airlines has announced via its parent, Malaysia Aviation Group, that it will acquire 20 Airbus SE A330neo wide-body aircraft to renew its fleet. 

The carrier was attracted by the jet’s fuel efficiency as air travel continues to soar towards 2019 levels – and beyond in some cases!

A fleet revamp

Malaysia Airlines has chosen the Airbus SE A330neo to revitalise its fleet. On 15 August, the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) announced that they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the 20-strong order. 

The deliveries of the A330neo are to be split between 10 direct purchases from the European manufacturer and 10 leases from Irish lessor Avolon Holdings. 

Avolon has said that deliveries will begin in 2024 and added that all 10 planes will be financed. The 10 aircraft directly from Airbus are set to be purchased on sale-and-leaseback terms.

According to Airbus, Malaysia Airlines has asked explicitly for a 300-seat, two-class layout. 

Airbus SE A330neo passenger aircraft
Malaysia Airlines sees these aircraft as the stars of its long-haul fleet. | © Jasper Juinen / Bloomberg

The A330neo is a re-engined version of the initial Airbus A330 Malaysia’s pilots are already familiar with, meaning that there is no need for additional training. 

Malaysia Airlines already owns a series of A330 aircraft. Currently, the carrier has six -200s and three -200 freighters, bringing the total to 9. A total of fifteen -300s pushes the carrier’s total to 24 active A330 aircraft. Malaysia Airlines typically uses the A330 for its long-haul operations but has been keen to upgrade from the much older aircraft of its fleet.

MAG CEO Izham Ismail signed the MoU. He commented on the order in a statement.

“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. This is a significant milestone as MAG moves towards the successful execution of our Long-Term Business Plan 2.0 to position itself as a leading aviation services Group within the region.”

Malaysia Airlines A330-300 aircraft
A Malaysia Airlines A330-300 passenger aircraft in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 2016. | © Dennis HKG via Flickr

Airbus CCO and Head of International Christian Scherer was also present for the signing of the MoU. He spoke well of the Malaysian national carrier and sang the praises of the efficient A330neo, which happens to be becoming one of Airbus’ most popular jets.

“Malaysia Airlines is one of the great Asian carriers and we are proud and humbled to be its preferred supplier of widebody aircraft. 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.”

Positive recovery post-pandemic

The Oneworld Alliance carrier has enjoyed a decent recovery following the two years of pandemic disruption. MAG announced a capacity restoration of up to 60% of 2019 levels. 

What are your thoughts on Malaysia Airlines wishing to acquire 20 Airbus aircraft? What does this mean for the Sepang-based airline? Comment below!

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