Airbus still in the mix after Boeing order

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Bhd. remains keen on Airbus SE’s upgraded A330neo wide-body jet after placing an order for the rival Boeing Co 787.

The re-engined Airbus twin-jet is a candidate for a major order as Malaysia Air renews its long-haul fleet and could operate alongside the Boeing Dreamliner, chief executive officer Peter Bellew said in an interview on Thursday.

Prospects for an A330neo purchase from the South-East Asian carrier appeared to have faded when Boeing said on Tuesday that it had secured a contract for eight 787-9s worth US$3bil at list prices. Bellew had said in March that he was looking at buying 25 to 30 A330s or 787s for delivery between 2019 and 2023.

“I think the A330neo will be a super plane, and we are still very much talking with Airbus,” the CEO said by telephone, adding that he plans to meet with the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer toward the end of next week for further discussions.

Bellew said in June that he was seeking a better price for the A330neo and clarity on other aspects of a deal including delivery schedules, adding that an order could take until this month at least. Of the wider wide-body requirement, around 15 jets would replace older aircraft, with the rest for expansion.

The A330neo, equipped with upgraded Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines, comes in two sizes priced at US$255mil and US$291mil before discounts, while the all-composite 787-9 sells for US$270mil.

Talks are continuing on the sourcing of second-hand A330s to fulfill Malaysian’s near-term fleet requirements, with several high-specification examples available on attractive terms from a bankrupt European airline, according to Bellew, who said he plans to meet with the leasing company involved, among others, in Dublin today.

The CEO has said his airline needs up to a dozen current-generation A330s, with half of the planes required in the first half of next year and the rest in 2019. They would mainly replace single-aisle Boeing 737s on medium-haul routes capable of supporting wide-bodies. — Bloomberg