Key Points:

  • Malaysia Airlines faces delay in Boeing 737 MAX delivery

  • The setback stems from Boeing's supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, improperly drilling holes in aircraft components.

  • Malaysia Airlines unveils route expansion, especially into the Indian market, with expectations to reach pre-pandemic capacity by end-2023.

Malaysia Airlines Outlines Plans for Domestic and International Routes

KUALA LUMPUR — Boeing's recent announcement regarding delivery delays of its 737 MAX aircraft has thrown a wrench into Malaysia Airlines' fleet modernization plans. The flag-carrier's top executive, Izham Ismail, Group Managing Director of the parent company Malaysia Aviation Group, voiced his disappointment over the unforeseen development, as highlighted by the Malaysian newspaper, New Straits Times, on September 1.

While the airline was gearing up to welcome its inaugural 737-8 on August 28, this hiccup has led to an uncertainty in the revised delivery timeline. Malaysia Airlines' agreement with Boeing encompasses the acquisition of 25 such narrowbody aircraft. However, Ismail remains optimistic that the delay, which doesn't stem from safety concerns, won't dramatically impact the subsequent aircraft deliveries. He emphasized the necessity to rectify the underlying issue to avert any similar complications in the future.

Digging into the cause of the delay, Boeing identified a fault in their supply chain in August. Specifically, Spirit AeroSystems, a supplier, was found to have executed improper drilling on the aft pressure bulkhead, leading to disruptions in delivery schedules for around 400 aircraft globally.

Previously, Malaysia Airlines had charted out its plans for the 737-8, which included five international destinations such as Bali, Jakarta, Kathmandu, Manila, and Phuket, alongside four domestic routes to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Miri, and Penang, all slated to commence from October.

In a strategic move to capture the burgeoning Indian aviation market, Malaysia Airlines is introducing new routes from its capital, Kuala Lumpur. These include flights to Amritsar commencing on November 8, to Thiruvananthapuram on November 9, and to Ahmedabad starting December 1. These routes will be facilitated by the 737-800s. Ismail, in his conversation with New Straits Times, elaborated on the airline's existing presence in India and projected that the capacity would match pre-pandemic figures by 2023's close.