FORMER prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent statement that questioned Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s (MAS) plan on its fleet strategy was inaccurate, chief executive officer Peter Bellew said.
“I have read everything on the blog, some of it has been reported to me. A lot of it is quite inaccurate, and nobody contacted me or our company to check any of the stuff that was on there.
“I believe the essence of it was that somebody said we are not buying the aircraft and other kind of stuff. We do plan to conclude the deal to buy the aircraft directly off Boeing” he said in a media briefing held at MAS Academy in Kelana Jaya.
He said while he had great respect for what the Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister had done in the past, Dr Mahathir however didn’t check the things he wrote on his blog.
On Monday, Dr Mahathir questioned the government’s announcement about the deal to purchase Boeing aircraft, saying MAS had previously said it wanted to buy aircraft from Airbus.
“Is MAS going to buy Airbus A350-900 or Boeing 787 Dreamliner, or both? Was there a decision made by MAS to buy the 58 Boeings, or was this a personal decision by Najib (Razak) as a bribe to get a photo opportunity with Trump?” he said.
In today’s media briefing on the company’s restructuring plan, Bellew said the national carrier had been talking to Airbus about the A33NEO and the Boeing 787.
“That has always been the intention. Today we have just done something else. We’ve got an opportunity to lease for a very good price a good aircraft,” he said.
Earlier, he announced MAS’ plan to lease six second hand Airbus A330-200 to replace six narrowbody Boeing 737 that are being returned to lessors.
The A30-200 aircraft, are expected to begin arriving from Feburary 2018.
Bellew said the Letter of Intent (LOI) with lessor of the aircraft, AerCap, was signed today.
“No new funding is required, just day to day expenditure. We are retiring the older planes and we are taking on new and different aircraft.
“The cost should only come down rather than go up. That’s our approach and there is no additional funding required to do this,” he said.
As per the LOI, the A330-200s will be leased for six years from 2018 to 2023 and will mainly be used to up-gauge several high demand medium haul routes.
The six aircraft will have a two class configurations – 287 seats with 19 fully lay-flat Business Class seats, brand new IFE on all seats and WiFi.
He added the leasing of the six extra-wide body aircraft would not increase the overall fleet size. MAS currently operates six A380s, 15 A330-300s and 48 B737-800s.
Peter Bellew to stay on at Malaysia Airlines
MEANWHILE, according to The Star:
Malaysia Airlines Bhd CEO Peter Bellew is staying put with the national airline despite speculation that he is returning to Ryanair Holdings Plc.
“I am perfectly happy to be here at Malaysia Airlines,” Bellew said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The Irishman who became MAS CEO in July 2016 after joining as chief operating officer in 2015, following nine years at Dublin-based discount specialist Ryanair.
Bellew said Malaysia Airlines may need to order more widebody aircraft in six months.
He added that the airline would lease six widebody aircraft from Air Berlin in 2018.
Malaysia Airlines and Boeing signed a memorandum of understanding for the planes that was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his visit to the White House two weeks ago, where he told US President Donald Trump that Malaysia Airlines would buy 25 Boeing 737 jets and eight 787 Dreamliners.
The eight 787-9s were converted from a prior 737 MAX order, while Malaysia Airlines also added eight purchase rights over 737 MAX aircraft, Boeing said.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT /ANN