Malaysia Airlines former chief executive Peter Bellew. Photo by NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON

KUALA LUMPUR: A new charter carrier, under Malaysia Airlines Bhd's (MAS) Project Hope, is on track to start operating by 2019.

In an email response to NST Business, MAS said the new airline, which has yet to be named, would operate all six of its double-deck wide-body Airbus A380 aircraft.

It is understood that the new carrier will be the first commercial airline in the world to serve only the Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Jeddah using the A380s.

According to MAS' former chief executive Peter Bellew, Project Hope is expected to be approved by MAS' sole shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd by end-2017.

NST Business had reported last week that MAS' holding company, Malaysia Aviation Group, may change its plans on setting up a new airline under Project Hope.

It is understood that the six A380 would instead be refurbished with newly-upgrade First Class and Business Class cabins.

According to industry sources, the superjumbo aircraft would also be used to service KL-London route as well as Seoul, Sydney and Melbourne from KL.

Currently MAS is using only A380 planes to fly to London, the only European destination in its network.

MAS is also expected to use its new long-range wide-body A350 on the KL-Tokyo route.

However, the airline said the new aircraft will be used on the double-daily KL-London route from the second quarter of 2018.

"However, we are maximising our assets by using certain aircraft, such as the A350 opportunistically during peak seasons to high traffic markets."

"We will be doing some Asia Pacific routes such as Penang, Bangkok and Singapore for operational planning," MAS said.

The airline added that it is currently evaluating the plan on using its new long-range wide-body A350 on the Kuala Lumpur-Auckland route.

The second A350 aircraft was delivered to MAS last week while the first plane was welcomed last month.

In total, the airline is leasing six A350s from Air Lease Corporation, an American aircraft leasing company.

The other four aircraft are expected to arrive here by the second quarter of 2018.