Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) plans to deploy Airbus A350-900s on the twice-daily Kuala Lumpur-London route currently operated by Airbus A380s starting in the fourth quarter of 2017.
According to a senior MAB official, the airline has experienced extreme difficulty filling the A380s, even in economy class.
“Passenger load on the morning flight is not good while that on the night flight is better but still not good enough as the yield is low,” the official said.
MAB has signed a long-term lease for four Airbus A350-900s and options for two more, along with two Airbus A330-900neos. Schedules call for delivery of the A350s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, in the fourth quarter of 2017 and second quarter of 2018.
MAB has yet to finalize plans for the use of its A380s after the four A350s go into operation. From a fleet of six, four now fly on the London route while two sit idle. MAB’s A380s seat eight in first class, 66 in business class and 420 in economy.
In a separate development, Malaysia Airlines is reconsidering earlier plans to phase out the 777-200ER fleet of 11 aircraft and scrap the Amsterdam and Paris routes by March 2016. The official said MAB might continue operating the daily Paris service using 777-200ERs, as Air France, which currently offers four flights a week on the route, plans to end its service on October 25. “Should this materialize then two 777s will be retained to operate the sector,” the official said.
MAB plans to drop daily Amsterdam service from the network at the end of March. From an initial fleet of 17 777-200ERs, MAB has parked four and lost the other two in fatal crashes.
In another development, the official indicated that MAB plans to introduce super economy class in the Airbus A330-300 fleet of 15 aircraft. “The new seating configuration is being worked on currently and should the plan go through the first aircraft configured in a three-class layout, business, super economy and economy will be operational at the end of March 2016,” he said.