Malaysia Airlines has been through a lot in the past few years. The airline was already struggling financially, and then they lost two of their 777s just months apart. This shocking chain of events caused a lot of people to avoid the airline, adding further to their problems.
The airline has generally been heading in the right direction, though, as they’ve made necessary cuts in terms of their fleet, workforce, etc. I might not agree with all of their changes (like cuts to their frequent flyer program, which seems counterintuitive), but I have respect for the work they’re trying to do.
Malaysia Airlines will soon be taking delivery of some new planes. The airline has six A350s (they’re taking delivery of their first one at the end of the year), as well as 25 737MAX aircraft (they’re taking delivery of those starting in 2019) on order.
It looks like Malaysia Airlines has some fun plans for their future 737 deliveries. Presently Malaysia’s 737s have a pretty typical regional configuration.
Business class consists of recliner seats with solid legroom, though it’s not that different than domestic first class within the US.
However, it looks they’re planning on upping their game with their 737 MAX 10 aircraft, the first of which they’ll take delivery of in 2021. AusBT reports that Malaysia Airlines will be installing fully flat beds in business class with direct aisle access from every seat on their 737 MAX 10 aircraft. Per AusBT, quoting Malaysia’s CEO:
“I’m shamelessly copying what JetBlue have done with Mint, which is a fantastically innovative transcontinental product in the US” Bellew tells Australian Business Traveller. “I’m shamelessly ripping off their ideas!”
That could include Mint’s suite-like approach, which sees some seats sport “a privacy panel you can pull across so it’s like a private cabin,” Bellew hints.
“Thompson are working on the final design at the moment, but we’ll have 16 business class seats in the Boeing 737 MAX 10s… we have the space to do that (although) we’ll probably have to go a bit further back in the aircraft.”
They’re taking inspiration from JetBlue Mint, and like the idea of a door for added privacy. However, while only a quarter of the JetBlue Mint seats feature direct aisle access, all Malaysia business class seats will. It sounds to me like they’re going to come up with a custom made product.
It’s fairly rare to see airlines install such impressive products on narrowbody planes. However, as we see narrowbody planes become more fuel efficient and longer range, we’re seeing them replace widebody aircraft that previously operated many routes. While I don’t think we’ll suddenly see all airlines installing fully flat seats on narrowbody aircraft, I suspect this will be much more common in a decade than it is now.
I can’t wait to see what Malaysia Airlines comes up. However, this is four years away, so who knows how much will change between now and then.