Malaysia Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding to take eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners worth more than $US2 billion at list prices in a deal that allows it to convert eight orders for B737 MAX 8s.
The MoU included eight additional purchase rights for B737 MAX 8s as well as Boeing’s Global Fleet care service to maintain current and future Boeing aircraft.
The MoU announcement was made as Malaysian Prime Minister Muhammad Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak was visiting the US to meet President Donald Trump and its timing raised questions in some media outlets.
Reuters said the meeting with Trump was critical for Najib who was looking to raise his standing in malysia and overseas ahead of elections.
However, Malaysia already has a big Boeing fleet with and operates more than 50 Next-Generation 737s. It has an additional 25 737 MAXs on order, including 10 for the new 737 MAX 10.
The order comes as the airline is restructuring and is expected to return to profitability next year. Chief executive Peter Bellew said in July the airline was on track to be publicly relisted in 2019.
The airline had been looking at Airbus A330neos and has also leased six Airbus A350 jets due to begin arriving later this year as replacements for the carrier’s A380 superjumbos. They will be used initially on the Kuala Lumpur-London route with other routes still under consideration.
Bellew, who earlier this year said he had been unable to reach an agreement on price with Airbus on the A330neos, said the range of the 787-9s gave the airline the ability to reach any point in Europe and some points in the US.
“The MoU with Boeing on their Global Fleet Care program will allow the two companies to build a world class MRO (maintenance and repair organisation) for the 737 MAX, 787 and 737NG based on Malaysia’s existing facilities in Kuala Lumpur,” he said in a statement.
Boeing Global Fleet Care provides operators engineering, materials and maintenance programs that are tailored to an individual airline.
Malaysia lost two Boeing 777 aircraft in 2014, one shot down by Russian-backed separatists and another which disappeared in as yet unexplained circumstances.
Bellew believes the airline’s brand has since recovered in all marketplaces.