Malaysia Airlines has moved to expand and renew its short-haul fleet, with the signing of a major deal for up to 50 aircraft.
The Kuala Lumpur-based national carrier has placed a firm order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, with the option of doubling the order to 50 aircraft in future, and potentially adding the larger B737 MAX 9 version. The initial firm order is worth US$2.75 billion at current list prices.
“This deal is a game-changer for Malaysia Airlines with much lower costs and greater efficiency which we will pass on to our loyal customers with lower fares,” said the airline’s CEO, Peter Bellew. “With the 737 MAX’s longer range capabilities, we will be able to connect our passengers to more destinations, in greater comfort and with superior economics.
“Malaysia Airlines is now on a path to growth across the ASEAN region. This new aircraft order will set the stage for our continued recovery and success into the next decade,” he added.
The Malaysian national carrier is no stranger to the B737 – in fact it has operated almost every derivative of the single-aisle jet series over the last 40 years, and took delivery of its 100th B737 in December 2014. It currently operates 56 B737-800s, configured with approximately 160 seats in a typical two-class layout.
The B737 MAX is the new fuel-efficient version of the B737, which is designed to consume 20% less fuel than its predecessor and reduce operating costs by 8%. For loss-making Malaysia Airlines, which is in the process of a major cost-cutting exercise, these savings could prove vital. Deliveries of the new aircraft will start in 2019.
In addition to the B737 MAX 8s, Malaysia Airlines has outstanding orders for six long-haul Airbus A350 aircraft.