The announcement from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) that it will lease 25 Boeing MAX 8s to Malaysia Airlines is another change of plans of the MAX introduction with the airline. Malaysia Airlines turns to ALC for its 25 MAX 8s.

Originally, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) ordered the aircraft directly from Boeing. During the 2016 Farnborough Airshow, it committed itself to 25 firm orders plus 25 purchase rights for the MAX 8 or 9 for delivery from 2020. Following the grounding of the MAX, the delivery schedule was amended in 2019. The first aircraft were expected only in 2024.

The latest lease arrangement with ALC brings this a year forward again to 2023. Malaysia Airlines Group will take all 25 aircraft between 2023 and early 2026, but they no longer come from its backlog with Boeing but from ALC’s backlog. According to Boeings’ unfilled orders list, ALC had 82 MAX aircraft on order on January 31.

Malaysia CEO Izham Ismail said that the agreement with ALC follows after a “detailed tender process in the last quarter. (…) This exercise is tied to the restructured terms of our existing order book with Boeing.” The original contract allowed Malaysia to swap its direct order for leased aircraft.

Malaysia Airlines has been in a deep restructuring in the past few years, the result of its own problems in 2014 and 2015 after the MH370 and MH17 events. Covid deepened the crisis, but in recent quarters, the airline has improved its results. In December, Izham Ismail said that he expects MAS to return to break even in 2023.

The MAX has always been part of the restructuring to renew the fleet with younger and more efficient aircraft, as Ismail confirms. “The 737-8 is key to our Long-Term Business Plan 2.0 with its superior product offerings and better fleet performance which includes amongst others, improved fuel efficiencies of up to 15 percent. This aligns well with our sustainability journey, whilst also enabling MAB with greater flexibility and agility to implement our future network strategies.”

The CEO said in December that Malaysia will issue a request for proposal from lessors to renew its Airbus A330-fleet. It has a total of 24 -200s and -300s that it wishes to replace from 2023. Malaysia already has six A350-900s on long-term lease from ALC.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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