Paris: European planemaker Airbus won a plane order worth $3.6 billion at list prices from Malaysia Airlines, more than doubling its 2010 tally in a year where deals have so far proved scarce.
Malaysia Airlines firmed up a memorandum of understanding for 15 A330-300 passenger aircraft and an additional order for two A330-200F freighters for operation by its MASkargo unit, Airbus said in a statement on Wednesday.
These were the first firm orders for more lucrative widebody aircraft for Airbus so far this year. Previously it had only sold 11 of its A320 family of single-aisle aircraft.
State-controlled Malaysia Airlines is modernising its fleet to capitalise on air travel growth in Asia. It said in December it would use the 283-seat A330s to serve the growing markets of South Asia, China, North Asia, Australia and the Middle East. “The ability to add capacity will enable us to offer more frequencies to key destinations and fly to new destinations,” Malaysia Airlines chief executive Azmil Zahruddin said in the Airbus statement, adding that it was “in high gear for growth”.
The airline, which doubled net profit in 2009, said last week it would look at debt financing, possibly including corporate bonds, to fund its fleet renewal. It has also unveiled a one-for-one rights offering.
Deliveries of the new A330 passenger aircraft will begin in the first half of 2011, with the first freighter joining the MASkargo fleet later next year, Airbus said.
The initial agreement signed between Airbus and Malaysia Airlines late last year also included the option to buy another 10 A330s.
Airbus posted a 66% drop in gross orders last year to 310 planes worth $34.9 billion at list prices. It said earlier this month it was targeting 250-300 new plane orders this year.