Malaysia Airlines Grounding Two A380s Next Month

Last week I wrote about Malaysia Airlines’ radical restructuring plan, whereby they’re trying to sell or lease their entire A380 fleet, as well as four of their thirteen Boeing 777s. While two of their A380s are available “immediately,” the other four are only available as of 2016.

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Malaysia Airlines A380

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Malaysia Airlines 777

Well, it seems this might be moving much faster than anyone could have anticipated, as Malaysia Airlines will be grounding two of their A380s as of early June 2015Malaysia Airlines will be taking the A380 off the Kuala Lumpur to Paris route, and will be replacing it with a Boeing 777-200.

Via ch-aviation.com:

Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int’l) says it is in preliminary discussions with several parties insofar as its A380-800 fleet plans are concerned. Last week, international media reported the carrier would either sell off or lease out its six A380s as part of parent Khazanah’s restructuring plans.

In a statement issued to AINOnline, the Malaysian carrier said it would ground two A380s, currently used on its Kuala Lumpur Int’l-Paris CDG route, early next month replacing them with B777-200(ER) machinery.

Wow, I’m surprised to read this will be happening so quickly. This is a huge downgrade for Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur to Paris route.

While Malaysia Airlines’ A380s feature a first class cabin and fully flat beds in business class, their 777s don’t have a first class cabin and feature angled seats in business class.

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Malaysia Airlines A380 first class

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Malaysia Airlines 777 business class

Now the big question remains of which airline will be taking over the A380s. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that they’re just grounding them for now because it’s cheaper to park them than to fly them, though my guess is that an airline is seriously interested and they’re about to finalize an agreement. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably Turkish Airlines, since they’ve been rumored to be eying the A380 for quite a while.

Long term I wouldn’t be surprised if some/all of the A380s go to Etihad Airways or Qatar Airways.

Which airline do you think will take over Malaysia’s two A380s, or do you think they’re just parking the planes for now?

Comments

  1. I pity the poor souls who had first class awards later in the year. This happened to me when TAM downgraded their first class.

  2. Their oldest A380 is 1.5 years away from a D check and from what I can tell they are trying to halt flight cycles on that plane Asap. This, and the fact that ME carriers are so particular about their planes is why I don’t see many prospective buyers.

    Emirates has a smarter but similar strategy, just that they wont be the one with colossal losses at the end; as getting rid of the planes isn’t their responsibility. They are going to have their A380s flying right uptil the second D check is due, before they return them to the lessor.

  3. I doubt that Qatar or Etihad will take the Malaysia A380s as both of them (as well as Emirates so far) have EA engines on their A380s while the Malaysia aircraft are powered by RollsRoyce engines. To operate A380s with two different engines means lots of additional expenses, especially taking into account the relatively small size of both airlines’ A380 fleet (even once all ordered aircraft will be delivered). Under these circumstances I would rather expect both airlines to order additional new aircraft from Airbus than to take the Malaysia frames.

  4. I hope B6 takes them and turns the upper deck into a giant, special version of Mint.

    (Yes, i’m kidding.)

    But think of how awesome that’d be for JFK – LAX.

  5. I doubt it would be Etihad, when asked for a view about whether Airbus should do a neo version of the A380 the response was “we don’t have an opinion as we have no interest in 4 engine aircraft past those we currently have on order”

    I would put my money on Turkish

  6. Lucky – any guesses on where Turkish might fly the A380s if they do end up taking them?

  7. Turkish was quoted on airliners.net as saying that they don’t want an A380 yet as IST cannot support it properly or something to that regard.

  8. TBH it could be likely that other airlines apart from the ME3 could use this as a substitute than availing the Options they have with Airbus. Maybe Singapore Airlines or Qantas as they both operate Rolls Royce Engines as well? With the upcoming Hajj season I will seriously not be surprised if a few of these are wet leased to Saudia for a few months.

    At the same time lets not forget that there is a high chance all 6 might go to different carriers, unless MAS is willing to give a bulk order discount!

  9. You note that Malaysia’s 777s have angle-flat seats in business class. Isn’t it the case that unless they needed a non-stop flight from London or Paris to Kuala Lumpur, discerning passengers would choose another airline anyway?

  10. I think it’ll be parked for a while. Khazanah is known for numerous sale and leaseback deals so i think that is what is going to happen with these a380s

  11. I think that the potential buyer is SQ. SQ is one of the few non-middle eastern carriers that has consistently had a good hard product and remained profitable. SQ has 6 A380s on order and probably would buy Malaysians and refit them with SQ suites

  12. Ben, first time poster but been a long time follower of your blog. I have a paid (revenue) first class ticket for the CDG-KUL route in November. In such an instance where they are downgrading me due to a change of plane, what will happen and what are my rights. Is reasonable to expect them to reroute me via LHR which still operates their first class product?

  13. Careful using words like that! Malaysia Airlines A380 ground! CNN will be reporting (and beating to death) a plane crash!

  14. Ben, I’m one of the (not so) lucky souls who have an (AAdvantage) award ticket on MH F KUL-CDG in July. This was to be my bf’s first F cabin experience and we’re bummed about the news. What would you do in this case? Thanks for any advice.

  15. @ italdesign — That’s a toughie. Since it’s a partner award, you may be able to get them to reroute you to LHR, though that will take a lot of effort, since it requires a liaison. Otherwise I’d maybe keep an eye on space and hope something opens up on Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong? Good luck!

  16. @ Kian — Thanks for reading! Their automatic reaction will probably simply be to downgrade you to business class, though I think it’s perfectly reasonable to request they route you through London so you can keep your first class seat.

  17. @ Miles Down Under — Well sure, but Malaysia Airlines does have *really* competitive fares, so I know a lot of people in Asia that fly them given what a great value they are.

  18. @ Kirby — If they did get them, I think London or New York would be likely contenders.

  19. I am one of those affected by it!! Cdg-kul route.
    Grrr.
    Too bad i will never get to fly mh F ever then.
    The worst part of it is they are still dragging their feet as my ticket is still on. given mh’s record.. they will just pull if off late.

  20. Ugh im affected too , just asking whether can I ask for compensation on the changing of aircrafts or ask MAS to change another carrier for me ?

  21. @ Celine — I’d say you should expect the fare difference or to be routed on a different airline. Whether they’ll do that in practice, though, may be a different story.

  22. Lucky, how accurate is this news? It has only been reported by this website and MAS still continues to sell First class tickets on their website (although they are notoriously slow in updating anything). Also in the case of Celine’s (and my) scenario if they choose refuse to reroute (either on their own LHR route or another airline) am I entitled to ask for a full refund?

  23. @ Kian — Yep, you should be able to get a full refund. Wouldn’t take this as a guarantee yet, but I’d say it’s fairly likely this will happen.

  24. Hi Lucky, I was intending to use my Avios points to book an MH F award ticket for end of the year. On the BA site, it shows availability for MH F still on the A380. What I couldn’t figure out was if they change the aircraft and drop the F class, will I be able to cancel my award ticket and what penalties will I be charged? Apologies if this is a simple question but “A fee will apply for date and time changes and cancellations” statement in their T&C’s isn’t very clear to me what that would involve if the MH F wasn’t operating on the that route anymore if they change the plane.

    I would like to be able to try MH F on the A380 at least one time before they retire the plane. The award ticket I am looking at is partial points and part cash. Thanks.

  25. @ redkitty — If they remove first class from the plane you can absolutely refund your Avios ticket without a fee. That being said, MH is apparently committed to keeping the A380 on the London route, so I think you should be good to go.

  26. I’ve book a flight with Malaysia Airlines from Dublin to Denpasar/Bali via Paris so I could travel on the A380 to Kuala Lumpur. As this has been changed to 777-200 would I be entitled to have this re-routed via London Heathrow?

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