KUALA LUMPUR: The phasing out of Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A380 programme has begun on Monday as the national carrier completes the first delivery of its superjumbo jet to Tarbes, France from Kuala Lumpur.
According to flight tracker website, FlightRadar24.com, the 10.7-year-old aircraft with registration number 9M-MNC, arrived at the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport (Tarbes Airport) at 3.15pm France local time.
No confirmation was given by Malaysia Airlines or Airbus SAS on whether the superjumbo jet was returned to the European aurcraft manufacturer.
However, the Tarbes Airport has a large aircraft storage area that is managed by Tarmac Aerosave.
Tarmac Aerosave is involved in the storage, maintenance and recycling of aircraft and engines.
The company is 33.6 per cent-owned by Airbus, while Safran S.A and aircraft recycling company, Suez, owns 32.8 per cent and 33.6 per cent respectively.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed the delivery of its first A380 to the New Straits Times on Wednesday, adding that the delivery of its remaining five widebody aircraft would take place in the next six weeks.
However, the national carrier, which is an airline unit of Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG), could not comment on the future of all its A380s.
"All six of the A380 aircraft have exited MAG's fleet. We're unable to comment on what happens to these aircraft next," an MAG spokesperson told the New Straits Times.
On July 21 last year, Malaysia Airlines had issued a tender notice for interested parties to acquire its A380 planes and/or components. However, there were no solid buyers even after over a year.
According to aviation portal, ch-aviation.com, there are 19 A380s being stored at the Tarbes Airport with five confirmed to be scrapped.
The aircraft were once belonged to Air France, Emirates, Etihad, Hi Fly, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
Air France was the first airline in the world to retire its entire fleet of 10 A380s based on its announcement in 2020.
Sources told the NST in September that Malaysia Airlines was believed to be returning all six of its A380 to Airbus as part of a deal made following the carrier's recent purchase of 20 new A330-900 new (new engine option) aircraft.
An industry observer had said in October that the logical thing that the national carrier could do was to dismantle all of its superjumbo planes to take out the components and return the parts to Airbus.
"One of the things that Airbus could do is to resell the A380 spare parts to other airlines that are operating the aircraft."
"Some parts such as the seats, trolley or handrails could even be sold to the public," the observer, who declined to be named, said, adding that monetary value could be put on each of the A380 parts.
On Oct 13-15 this year, Airbus has held a three-day auction to sell some 500 parts belonging to a scrapped Emirates A380. The auction items included stairs, bar, lamps, trolleys, seats and paddles, to name a few.
An airline based in Southeast Asia that had scrapped at least two of its A380 was Singapore Airlines.
The aircraft were dismantled in Singapore by Singapore Airlines' maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company, SIA Engineering Company.
A Singapore Airlines spokesperson said the usable parts from the scrapped aircraft would be used as spare parts to maintain the carrier's other A380s that were currently in service.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is also eyeing 25 additional Boeing B737 MAX aircraft as part of its narrow-body fleet renewal program.
The national carrier said the fleet renewal programme was primarily to replace its existing B737-800 fleet and to cater for some future network growth requirements.
"The narrow-body fleet renewal program will enable MAG to meet its sustainability goals and aspirations via introducing a more modern and fuel-efficient fleet within the Asia Pacific region," the MAG spokesperson said.
Malaysia Airlines is expected to take delivery of 25 B737 MAX aircraft from 2023 onwards.
The national carrier said it continued to evaluate growth opportunities for additional destinations to add to its network, which must be commercially viable either with operating the routes itself or by flying with its airline partners within the oneworld alliance.