No buyers, Malaysia Airlines to return six A380 to Airbus?

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Bhd, an airline unit of Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), is believed to be returning all six of its Airbus A380 to aircraft manufacturer Airbus by year-end.

The New Straits Times learnt that the plan was part of a deal made following the airline's recent purchase of 20 new A330-900 neo (new engine option) in August this year.

"The plan is for them (Airbus) to take back all the aircraft (A380) by the end of this year. It's up to them what they want to do with the aircraft."

"The discussion is ongoing. It's a work in progress," sources said, adding that the aircraft would be delivered to Airbus once the location is decided.

The sources also said there might not be a second-hand market for the A380 after all as there were no solid buyers even after Malaysia Airlines had put up the superjumbo jet for sale for over a year.

The airline had on July 12 last year issued a tender notice for interested parties to acquire its A380 aircraft and/or components.

One airline chief executive officer (CEO) that was fiercely vocal about the A380 is Qatar Airways' Akbar Al Baker.

"There is zero second-hand market for the A380 and I don't think that this program will rebound," he told the New Straits Times in June this year, adding that the purchase of the world's largest passenger carrier was Qatar Airways' biggest mistake.

Meanwhile, MAG spokesperson said the group planned to retire and exit the A380 by the end of 2022.

"However, the terms related to the deal with Airbus remain confidential," the spokesperson said when asked about the deal.

An Airbus spokesperson also cited similar comment, saying "the terms of our agreement with MAG are confidential."

Currently, all six of Malaysia Airlines' A380 are on a long-term parking and not included in the national carrier's network plan.

MAG CEO Captain Izham Ismail said in June the aircraft was not included in the airline's fleet anymore due to the higher operating cost as the A380 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.

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