Once the operator of dozens of Boeing 747s and a handful of Airbus A380 superjumbos, the fleet of Malaysia Airlines has changed significantly over the past few decades – and certainly in just the last few years. Now exclusively operating twinjet aircraft, let’s see what this Southeast Asian legacy carrier operates in late 2021.
The Malaysia Airlines fleet at a glance
Let’s first take a look at the composition of the airline’s fleet as a whole. We should note that there is a discrepancy between two of our primary sources of fleet data- ch-aviation.com and planespotters.net. The former indicates that there are 99 aircraft operated by Malaysia Airlines, while the latter shows a fleet of just 83. Examining the data closer, it appears that ch-aviation.com has included all aircraft within the Malaysia Aviation Group, which also includes subsidiaries MASwings and Firefly. In this article, we will only look at the mainline carrier, Malaysia Airlines.
The aircraft types are listed below with quantities in parentheses:
- Airbus A330-200 (9)
- Airbus A330-300 (15)
- Airbus A350-900 (6)
- Airbus A380-800* (6)
- Boeing 737-800 (47)
*The Airbus A380s have gone up for sale but are technically part of the fleet as they remain unsold.
The 737-800: Malaysia Airlines’ trusty workhorse
With a whopping 47 Boeing 737-800s operated by Malaysia Airlines, the type is truly the carrier’s short and medium-haul workhorse. The average age for this fleet at the time of publishing this article is just over nine years, with the airline already having retired 13 of the type (while temporarily leasing two others).
The carrier has placed great faith in the 737 right from the beginning of the type’s mass production. Malaysia Airlines operated 20 737-200s in its earlier years and has flown almost every variant size produced: The -300, -400, -500, and -700. It should be noted that only two -300s were flown- both cargo variants. The one -700 operated was a VIP/Government configuration.
The 737-800 is used both domestically and internationally. One of the airline’s busiest 737-800 routes is the popular Kulala Lumpur-Penang corridor, which sees six flights daily (42 flights weekly), all using the 737. Internationally, you’ll find the type flying out of Kuala Lumpur to cities like Singapore, Mumbai (India), Yangon (Myanmar), and Jakarta (Indonesia). Some of these cities also see the airline’s widebody twinjets as well.
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Killed by the pandemic: The Airbus A380
While still technically part of the Malaysia Airlines fleet, the carrier’s six Airbus A380 superjumbos went up for sale in July of 2021. The airline took a slightly unconventional approach, opening the tender process via its LinkedIn channel for anyone hoping for a good deal on a double-decker quadjet on the business-centric social media platform. With both of our sources indicating that the aircraft remain part of the fleet (albeit inactive and parked), we can assume that the airline has yet to find a buyer for any of these jets.
These six aircraft have an average age of nine and a half years and joined the fleet over the course of 2012 and 2013. Malaysia Airlines had the pleasure of taking delivery of Airbus’ 100th A380. Registered as 9M-MNF, the aircraft had a special livery to recognize its special status.
With the A380s gone and the airline having said goodbye to its 777s (involuntarily on two occasions) in the mid-2010s, the carrier now relies on its Airbus A350s and A330s for long-haul and high-capacity services.
Flights using these larger jets can be as short as Kuala Lumpur to Singapore (a typically high-capacity and highly-competitive route) or as long as Kuala Lumpur to London.
Have you ever flown with Malaysia Airlines? Which aircraft have you flown on? Let us know by leaving a comment.