Malaysia Airlines said it will acquire 20 Airbus SE A330neo wide-body planes as it seeks more fuel-efficient jets amid a travel rebound.
The Southeast Asian carrier will purchase 10 A330-900 aircraft, with the rest coming from lessor Avolon Holdings Ltd. existing order book, it said in a statement Monday.
The model is a re-engined version of the original A330 that the airline already operates, obviating the need for pilots to go through expensive retraining.
Parent Malaysia Aviation Group has been cash-flow positive since the fourth quarter of last year, with capacity restored to 60% of pre-Covid levels. The stronger-than-expected recovery in air travel has provided a boost for planemakers following a hiatus during the pandemic, with wide-body demand now picking up after an earlier rebound in single-aisle sales.
Bloomberg News reported in July that Airbus was leading a race against Boeing Co. for a wide-body jet replacement campaign at Malaysia Airlines. The carrier will operate the A330neo, which uses engines from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, on its network covering Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.
Avolon said separately that deliveries will begin in 2024 and that it will finance all of the planes, with the 10 bought by the carrier set to be purchased on sale-and-leaseback terms.
Malaysia Airlines, which is owned by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd., has specified a 300-seat, two-class layout, according to Airbus.