Malaysia Air Signs MoU For 36 ATR Turboprops

December 18, 2012

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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.