Malaysia Air Signs MoU For 36 ATR Turboprops
Malaysia Airlines, the country's national carrier, said on Tuesday it signed a memorandum of understanding with French-Italian aircraft maker ATR to buy 36 ATR 72-600s for MYR3 billion ringgit (USD$981 million).
The agreement to purchase the ATRs comes just days after AirAsia announced a USD$9.4 billion order for 100 Airbus jets to expand its fleet before the Southeast Asian open-sky policy comes into effect in 2015.
MAS has been struggling to remain competitive due to an old fleet, rising fuel costs and competition from low-cost carriers such as AirAsia, Asia's biggest budget airline.
Of the 36 ATRs, MAS said its wholly owned carrier Firefly will take 20, while MASwings, a MAS unit that flies rural routes in Sabah and Sarawak states, will take the rest.
Firefly currently operates 12 ATR 72-500s, and MASwings operates 10 similar aircraft.
The new ATR 72-600s are expected to arrive starting the end of the second half of 2013, according to Firefly in a press statement.