Malaysia Airlines is in talks to rent out its A380 superjumbos to religious travel groups for haj and umrah pilgrimages, its chief executive said, in a move likely to trim financial losses and dispel some recent gloom over demand for the huge jets.
Malaysia Airlines has six of the world’s biggest jetliners but says the Airbus jet does not make economic sense for it at a time when it is cost-cutting as part of a restructuring. Past attempts to sell the planes have failed.
CEO Peter Bellew said the airline was in talks about a possible “wet lease” deal with a number of religious travel organisations that would hire Malaysia Airlines aircraft and crew to fly people on the haj and umrah pilgrimages.
Talks between Malaysia Airlines and the potential customers started about 10 weeks ago and Bellew, who took the CEO reins from Christoph Mueller in July, said he is confident of reaching an agreement before the end of December and that the planes would be used for eight months a year.
“I believe it will happen,” he told Reuters, adding that any deal would more than cover its A380 costs.
To ease the transition, Malaysia Airlines is in discussions with Airbus about reconfiguring its A380s, which usually have 544 seats in three classes, to fit 700 people for the pilgrimages. Bellew said Airbus is open to the possibility.
Airbus said it was in daily contact with its customers but the details of any discussions would remain confidential.
Malaysia Airlines said in February that it had delayed plans to sell some of its A380s, and would now keep all six of them at least until 2018.
Source The Star
http://www.thestar.com.my/business/busi ... e-flights/
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