There's second-hand market for Airbus A380 after all?

DOHA: There may be a second-hand market after all for Airbus A380 aircraft as Malaysia Airlines Bhd is looking to dispose either all six or part of its superjumbo jets by year-end.

Group chief executive officer Captain Izham Ismail said the disposal of the aircraft was in line with Malaysia Airlines' internal target.

The six aircraft were now on a long-term parking and not included in the national carrier's network planm he added.

"I don't know (if there would be a second-hand market for the A380) but we're in conversation with few interested parties. Our internal target is to dispose the aircraft (by) end of this year," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) 78th annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit here recently.

Izham said the A380 was not included in Malaysia Airlines' fleet anymore due to the higher cost of operating the world's largest commercial aircraft that has four engines.

"If you look at future aircraft technologies, it's all about twin-engine and long-range. So, if you want to be competitive, you cannot put an A380 in play because the operating cost is high. It will not bring you to the level playing field to be competitive. No doubt the product on the A380 is superior, but at the end of the day it (comes down to) profit and loss," he said.

Izham added that Malaysia Airlines' A380 was previously used to fly to other destinations such as Japan and Australia by the airline, in addition to Saudi Arabia by its subsidiary, Amal.

"We take opportunity when there's demand. We fill the A380. So, it's not solely (for) Amal usage. The A380 brings a lot of stress to our balance sheet. It's more efficient to operate Umrah on a smaller size wide-body (aircraft)," he said.

The A380 production was halted by its manufacturer Airbus from 2021 after 12 years of its introduction into the world. The aircraft was once seen as the bright future of air travel.

When asked if the six A380s were a mistake for MAB, Izham said that the aeroplanes were the right aircraft at the time the purchase decision was made in early 2000s.

However, the aircraft, which was supposed to be delivered in 2007, was delayed due to production and design issues. MAB only took delivery of its first A380 in May 2012.

"I wouldn't say it's the biggest mistake for us. It was a good decision at that current time. But the world has changed," Izham said.

Currently, Malaysia Airlines has 74 aircraft in its fleet, comprising six A350s, 15 A330-300s, six A330-200s and 47 Boeing 737-800s.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is in the final negotiation stages for 21 brand new A330 aircraft with several lessors as part of its fleet campaign.

Izham said the 21 aircraft was aimed for entry into service by the second quarter of 2024, in addition to the 25 B737 MAX aircraft that the airline would take delivery from next year.

"It is (the 21 A330) a replacement aircraft, not growth (of the fleet). This fleet campaign has to deliver a competitive fleet cost and (we need to) regain recovery in our product offering to our consumers," he said.

He added that the new aircraft would not only bring down the operating cost but also offer new products to its passengers as well as keeping Malaysia Airlines in line with is sustainability or reduction of carbon emission agenda.

Izham also said most of the 21 new A330s would be leased by Malaysia Airlines instead of being purchased as the airline is cautious not to put unnecessary stress on its balance sheet.

The airline is currently reviewing several financing options for the new aircraft, which include operating lease and sale and leaseback options.

"Moving forward, Malaysia Airlines needs to be very careful with its investment (which includes the fleet campaign). We must be very clear that whatever investment we do must not create structural stress to the balance sheet," Izham said.

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