| LONDON, March 23
LONDON, March 23 Malaysia Airlines is looking to
lease widebody planes to boost its network from next year and
will make a decision on a order of new planes for delivery from
2019 later this year, the carrier's chief executive told
Peter Bellew said load factors - or how full its planes are
- were 81 percent in January and 80 percent in February and that
bookings for April, May and June were looking solid.
"My problem now is I don't have enough seats and I don't
have big enough aircraft," Bellew said in an interview in
London, where he was meeting with an airline to discuss options
to lease planes.
The national carrier is emerging from a turnaround after
twin tragedies since 2014, when flight MH370 disappeared in what
remains a mystery, and flight MH17 was shot down over eastern
He said Malaysia Airlines wanted to lease six A330s or 777s
for use from 2018 and a further six for 2019 and that the
carrier saw a good chance to get some good rates.
"Some airlines in the Middle East and Turkey have grounded
aircraft so it's a good time for Malaysia Airlines to be looking
for these type of aircraft," he said.
Bellew also said he planned to make a decision on an order
for 25-30 new A330neo or 787 widebody planes by the end of the
first half of this year to replace its A330s from the end of
The 787 would allow it to resume non-stop flights to Europe,
but the pricing of either jet is not yet where Malaysia would
like it to be, he said.
The restrictions announced this week on bringing larger
consumer electronic devices into plane cabins on some routes
from Middle Eastern and North African countries could also push
some carriers to cancel aircraft orders, Bellew said, saying
that it could impact business travel bookings.
"If you're not getting the business class seats filled up,
you will end up not operating flights over time and then you
won't need as many planes," he said.
Bellew said he expected the restrictions to create chaos for
the first few days, but also impact demand for travel to the
"In a strange way, it could benefit us. There is no hassle
coming to Malaysia," he added.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, editing by David Evans)