Malaysia Airlines will use its new Airbus A350 jets to open a second destination in Europe following next year's launch of A350 flights between Kuala Lumpur and London.
However, the Oneworld member has axed plans to send the A350 to Auckland and has ruled out other destinations such as Australia and Tokyo.
“We've got the A350, it’s an expensive aircraft and we have to find something meaty and significant to do with it,” Malaysia Airlines CEO Peter Bellew has told aviation analyst firm CAPA.
Bellew said the economics of running the A350 on medium-range routes in the Asia-Pacific region simply didn't stack up, especially as the fleet will be limited to just six of the advanced aircraft.
“We hope to find something more than nine hours. We haven’t landed on one thing. We are looking at European destinations,” he admitted, adding that the airline is currently in discussion “with some airports.”
A return to Paris or Amsterdam?
Malaysia Airlines previously flew to Paris and Amsterdam until both routes where shuttered in early 2016, and before that to Frankfurt and Istanbul in 2015, leaving London as its only European destination.
London is currently served by two daily Airbus A380 flights, but the first of those flights – MH4/MH5 – will be handed over to the Airbus A350s in either February or March 2018, depending on Airbus’ delivery schedule for the new jets.
The second London flight – MH1/MH2 – will switch from the superjumbo upon delivery of the next pair of A350s.
Malaysia Airlines’ Airbus A350 is believed to have a small first class cabin of just four seats – using what’s understood to be the Vantage XL design (below) from Ireland's Thompson Aero Seating, which also provided the platform for Qantas Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 business class...
The Airbus A350s will sport a small first class cabin of just four seats using the Vantage XL design (below) from Ireland's Thompson Aero Seating, which also provided the platform for Qantas Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 business class...
... followed by business class, ‘economy extra legroom’ and standard economy cabins.
Once the A350s have taken over the Kuala lumpur-London flights, Malaysia Airlines will have its Airbus A380s stripped back to an "ultra-high capacity" configuration (read: almost entirely economy class) and handed over to a new offshoot aimed at serving the bustling Muslim market for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.