Malaysia Airlines is nearing a deal to purchase as many as 30 Airbus A330neo jets, but the price remains a sticking point and no announcement is expected at this week's Paris Air Show.
The Oneworld member is also seeking clarity regarding other aspects of the transaction, including delivery schedules, Chief Executive Officer Peter Bellew said in an interview Saturday. There’s no likelihood of an order being placed at this week’s Paris Air Show, and one could take until September at least, he said.
Malaysia Airlines said in March that it was looking at buying 25 to 30 A330neos or Boeing 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2019 and 2023, potentially worth more than US$7 billion at list prices. Around 15 would replace older aircraft, with the rest for expansion.
“With fuel still relatively low and likely to stabilize at that level second-hand aircraft are also attractive, so the figures need to add up,” Bellew said in the interview. Though the A330neo is an attractive proposition, the 787 isn’t yet out of the running while pricing remains an issue, he added.
The A330neo, featuring upgraded Rolls-Royce engines, comes in two sizes advertised at US$255 million and US$291 million before discounts, while the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a modern composite model, has three variants priced between US$230 million and US$313 million.
Talks are continuing regarding the lease of up to a dozen current-generation A330s, Bellew said, with half of the planes required in the first half of next year and the rest in 2019. They would mainly replace single-aisle Boeing 737s on medium-haul routes capable of supporting wide-body jets.
The Asian carrier has been in touch with more than a dozen leasing firms and other suppliers about the planes and should reach a decision soon, the CEO said. It’s unlikely that they’ll be sourced from Alitalia, which seems likely to survive a bankruptcy filing amid interest from various parties, he said.
Malaysian Airlines is seeking more aircraft after paring its fleet and route network in response to a bookings slump that followed two fatal crashes in 2014.