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WASHINGTON, Sept 13 ― Malaysia Airlines said it will relaunch long-haul routes following yesterday’s agreement with Boeing to purchase eight 787-9 aircraft.
The national carrier’s managing director and chief executive officer Peter Bellew said the first of the ultra-long haul 787-9 planes was expected to be delivered by the third-quarter of 2019.
Bellew said the airline was looking at seven new long-haul routes, including Amsterdam which the airline had stopped a couple of years ago.
The cost of the eight aircraft is about US$2.5 billion (RM10.5 billion) and the planes are to be decked out with a luxurious layout.
“These aircraft will bring Malaysia Airlines back into five-star premium airline. We want to differentiate ourselves from the low-cost carriers.
“This is part of the transformation that we have been working very hard for in the past 12 months of moving out from being a narrow body aircraft to wide body planes. We can now reach destinations we could not have done earlier, even the likes of the West Coast of the United States and North Asia where the yield is much higher,” said Bellew to Malaysian newsmen here yesterday.
He had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Boeing to purchase these aircraft.
The signing of the document was witnessed by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in the presence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Together with the six Airbus A350 planes which the airlines ordered earlier, Malaysia Airlines is expected to have a full fleet that can offer long-haul destinations non-stop.
The existing six Airbus A380 will be taken over by the new airline subsidiary that will operate the Haj flights from various destinations.
Bellew said the new company was doing very well as there was high demand for flights.
The 787-9 planes for the second set of aircraft that the airline had ordered from Boeing. Earlier this year, they had announced the purchase of the Boeing 737-Max 10.
Bellew revealed that the 737 Max 10 deal was worth some US$6.8 billion (RM28.56 billion), as it was a firm purchase of 25 of the planes and with an option to buy 25 more over the next five years.
The MoU also includes Boeing’s Global Fleet Care service to maintain the national carrier’s current and future Boeing airplanes with the setting up of a world class MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) for the 737 MAX, 787 and 737NG based on Malaysia’s existing facilities in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
Bellew said its present hangar six was under-utilised for the past 12 years.
“It is the second largest freestanding building in the world and I am sure the MRO there can handle all the Boeing aircraft.”