Malaysia Airlines’ post-COVID outlook: restructuring and fleet changes

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Malaysia Airlines is relying on revised fleet and business strategies and a recently completed financial restructuring to achieve its goal of long term stability.

But as with all airlines at the moment, the major factor determining its short term prospects is how quickly demand recovers in its key markets.

The airline was detecting some positive signs last year, but these were swept away by new COVID-19 waves that have affected many parts of the Asia-Pacific region. The difficulty for Malaysia Airlines - and other carriers - is that the projections underpinning their recovery plans are extremely fluid due to the unpredictable demand shifts during the pandemic. This makes any recovery timetable forecast very much a moving target.

While the timing remains uncertain, the airline's strategic changes and restructuring initiatives will improve its odds in the post-pandemic industry environment. Its debt load has been dramatically reduced and the company has been recapitalized.

One important move will result in Malaysia Airlines finally disposing of its Airbus A380s, which have been an encumbrance for the airline for years. Its fleet plan also includes aircraft orders to refresh its widebody fleet, as well as the delivery of its 737 MAX orders. The launch of narrowbody jet operations with its Firefly subsidiary will give it another option to tap into a wider market.

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