Malaysia Airlines has gone through quite a roller coaster over the past few years. Since the disappearance of MH370, and the bombing of MH17, the airline has struggled. They changed CEOs and tried to pair up with Emirates. They have successfully become a regional carrier, and only retained one key long haul route: Kuala Lumpur-London. This is their flagship route, and the airline has operated their largest aircraft (the A380) on it. It seems that the days are numbered for the A380 on MH’s system. With the delivery of the A350 later this year, the airline will substitute the A380 with the new, more fuel efficient aircraft.
THE ECONOMICS OF AN A380
A380s are huge aircraft. The economics of flying such a behemoth are very complex, but simply put: if you can’t fill it up, you will lose tons of money. Given Malaysia Airlines’ bad PR after the two disasters, the airline struggled to fill seats. Its much easier to fill a 300 seat aircraft than a 500 seat one. In the end, the airline cannot sustain the economic weight of operating their older A380s Many airlines have suffered a similar fate. Singapore Airlines will retire some of its A380s, and not replace them with new ones. The only successful airline with the A380 has been Emirates, where the sheer scale of their operations make it more feasible.
MALAYSIA AIRLINES’ A350
One thing that surprised me on the GDS filling reported by Airlineroute is that the aircraft will have first class. I don’t know of any airline so far that has a three class A350 (with first class). There will be 4 seats in First, as well as 31 seats in business class and 250 seats in coach. I wonder what kind of first class the airline will offer on the plane. I hope it is on the level of other top notch regional carriers such as Garuda Indonesia. Or at least that the product is a fully enclosed suite.
I am very sad to see the era of jumbo jet aircraft come to a close. As fewer and fewer airlines operate 747s and A380s, these aircraft will slowly begin to disappear. I am happy to see, though, that Malaysia will still offer first class on their A350. I am curious to see what the product will look like. The end of the Malaysia Airlines A380 flights to London is set: March 3, 2018. I will try to fly the route with the A380 before it gets retired!