Malaysia Airlines Retiring Airbus A380 Fleet, Looking For Buyer

Malaysia Airlines Retiring Airbus A380 Fleet, Looking For Buyer

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The pandemic has caused the acceleration of Airbus A380 retirements. Air France, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, and Thai Airways have retired (or plan to retire) their A380 fleets, while Qatar Airways seems highly likely to retire its A380 fleet.

In May 2021 we learned about Malaysia Airlines’ plans to retire its A380 fleet, and the airline is now officially looking to sell these planes.

Malaysia Airlines’ A380 fleet is history

In May 2021, Malaysia Airlines’ CEO confirmed that the airline plans to retire its Airbus A380 fleet:

We are cognizant of the challenges to sell this aeroplane, but we are still looking at ways and means to dispose of our 380 fleet. At the moment, the management is convinced that the 380 doesn’t fit the future plan.

For context, Malaysia Airlines has just six Airbus A380s, which the airline took delivery of in 2012 and 2013.

Malaysia Airlines is retiring its Airbus A380s

Malaysia Airlines’ A380s feature a total of 494 seats, including:

  • Eight first class seats on the lower deck in a 1-2-1 configuration, which are nowadays branded as “Business Suites”
  • 66 business class seats on the upper deck in a 2-2-2 configuration, which are fully flat
  • 420 economy seats on both the lower deck and upper deck; on the lower deck they’re in a 3-4-3 configuration, while on the upper deck they’re in a 2-4-2 configuration
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 first class
Malaysia Airlines’ A380 business class

Malaysia Airlines now looking to sell A380 fleet

Malaysia Airlines took to LinkedIn today to sell its super jumbo jets. The company is looking to conduct an open tender for the sale of six Airbus A380s — either for the entire aircraft, and/or the components. Interested buyers are told to contact the airline by August 12, 2021.

I can’t imagine there will be much interest for these planes — we’ve seen other airlines do similar things, and the only secondhand A380 that ever ended up flying was with Hi Fly (and that plane has already been retired).

Malaysia Airlines, I’d gladly take one of these A380s off your hands. I just need some help with the fuel bill and somewhere to park it, and you’ll never have to worry about it again. 😉

This is the least surprising A380 retirement

The reality is that you can’t even really blame Malaysia Airlines’ A380 retirement on the pandemic. Like so many other airlines, Malaysia Airlines has historically been a poorly run, government owned airline.

The airline received enough funding to stay in business, but not not enough freedom to become a viable business. Prestige has been prioritized over profitability, and the A380 order was a reflection of that.

Malaysia Airlines was trying to sell its A380 fleet going as far back as 2015. In 2016 the airline came up with a plan to create a sister business whereby the airline would wet lease A380s to other carriers on a short term basis. The idea of using these planes for Hajj and Umrah flying was also considered.

Then in 2017 Malaysia Airlines’ management changed its mind again, and the new plan was to add A380s to destinations that needed more capacity. Since then, these planes have been severely underutilized.

Bottom line

Malaysia Airlines intends to retire its fleet of six Airbus A380s, and is now looking to sell these planes. The airline was considering getting rid of its A380s going as far back as 2015, and hasn’t been flying these planes much, even pre-pandemic. It looks like at this point the Kuala Lumpur-based carrier will dump the planes no matter what, even if Malaysia Airlines can’t get any money for them.

Anyone surprised to see Malaysia Airlines finally retire A380s?

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  1. CJ 923

    For these A380, Maybe a possible move to ANA All Nippon Airlines to expand their A380 fleet.

  2. Weymar Osborne

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of whether there are any airlines out there for which picking up a few used A380's could make sense. Perhaps British Airways given how congested Heathrow is? Also, since ANA is using A380's to cater to tourist demand as opposed to business (given that they fly them all to Honolulu) I could potentially see a few other large tourist markets like Los Angeles and Paris when combined...

    It would be interesting to see an analysis of whether there are any airlines out there for which picking up a few used A380's could make sense. Perhaps British Airways given how congested Heathrow is? Also, since ANA is using A380's to cater to tourist demand as opposed to business (given that they fly them all to Honolulu) I could potentially see a few other large tourist markets like Los Angeles and Paris when combined with the efficiencies of scale from having a few more units.

  3. RF

    Maybe one of those fantasy airlines will show interest.

  4. shoeguy

    They've been trying to get rid of them for a decade, almost. Buena Suerte.

  5. Kent

    I'll give them a hundred bucks.

  6. TomPR

    It seems as though companies that dismantle planes and sell the parts are offering a better price than airlines? That’s my guess if the cruise line industry is anything to go by.

    It’s a shame though… hopefully there are at least a few A380’s that go to museums so people can see the giant in person even if its wings are clipped. They shouldn’t have scrapped the first a380 that came out of the assembly line…

  7. Andrew

    Hard for 'hundreds' to be for sale when other than the ones used by Emirates - there are not many more than 100 in total.

  8. Nicola

    Good luck in finding buyers for the A380. There are hundreds on sale right now and not many customers that I know.

  9. derek

    Maybe Emirates will buy them for pennies on the dollar. The Sultan of Brunei could buy one but unlikely 6 of them. The other 5 should go to museums if Emirates doesn't want them. Maybe museums in Malaysia, Washington, Seattle, Duxford, Sinsheim (Germany). Alternatively, Puma (Arizona) and LeBourget.

    1. AA70

      Would love to go back to Sinsheim and see an A380 on a plinth next to the Concordes

  10. Mike C

    It seems there are very few airlines that see the A380 as part of their future. Singapore, Emirates and Qantas seem to think that the type does fit their plans, but I would guess they already have enough of them. Even if any of these airlines want more, the world seems to be awash with surplus A380s so buying them from MH isn't their most likely way to acquire them.

    I hope that airlines will...

    It seems there are very few airlines that see the A380 as part of their future. Singapore, Emirates and Qantas seem to think that the type does fit their plans, but I would guess they already have enough of them. Even if any of these airlines want more, the world seems to be awash with surplus A380s so buying them from MH isn't their most likely way to acquire them.

    I hope that airlines will continue to fly these beautiful aeroplanes, but I can't see this set of six flying anywhere else just now.

  11. ORDnHKG

    @ JBR - American, United, and Delta have no interest in A380, if not united and delta wouldn't even get rid of their 744 back in 2017, some of their 744 were not even 20 years old at the time. Spirit for sure wouldn't want them, you want to maximize profit you want a small plane but not a big plane, as the harder you have to fill seats, the cheaper the tickets, less profit you would make, and you know LGA can't even handle A380 right ?

    1. JBR

      Good point on LGA not accepting A380's, I didn't think of that. My Spirit reference was mostly for laughs, as being one of 853 passengers on a Spirit-operated plane would probably be the closest thing to hell that could be experienced in a passenger plane. And you are absolutely right about the Big 3 and no U.S. airline in general not previously wanting them for profit reasons, i.e. the difficulty in filling one up with...

      Good point on LGA not accepting A380's, I didn't think of that. My Spirit reference was mostly for laughs, as being one of 853 passengers on a Spirit-operated plane would probably be the closest thing to hell that could be experienced in a passenger plane. And you are absolutely right about the Big 3 and no U.S. airline in general not previously wanting them for profit reasons, i.e. the difficulty in filling one up with paying passengers and paying off their investments in their A380's. However, if they are receiving used A380's in good condition for next-to-nothing and combine that with the huge influx of people in the U.S. wanting to fly post-pandemic and the airlines having a very difficult time accommodating them currently, it seems to me that on certain routes (like LAX to JFK or JFK to MIA) the A380 could work for U.S. airlines.

    2. Bagoly

      LGA not possible, but how about airports with congested runways?
      LHR in five year's time, because the third runway won't have happened (unless the green movement really does cause flying to reduce)
      Others?

  12. JBR

    If Malaysia Airlines or one of the other airlines who are looking to get rid of their A380's got rid of them at the right price, seems to me like one of the big three (Delta, American, or United) could re-configure them and put them on a few select domestic routes with lots of passengers and high-paying business folks like LAX to JFK. Or maybe Spirit could buy a few of them and put it/them on routes like their LGA to LAX route and max it out at 853 passengers!

    1. P-LGA

      @JBR - Yup, A380 at LGA totally makes sense...

      This plane is dead. Not even the ME3 want any more of them.

    2. Tyler Hoa

      Not allowed to fly West of the Rockies from LGA :(

    3. TomPR

      It seems as though companies that dismantle planes and sell the parts are offering a better price than airlines? That’s my guess if the cruise line industry is anything to go by.

      It’s a shame though… hopefully there are at least a few A380’s that go to museums so people can see the giant in person even if its wings are clipped. They shouldn’t have scrapped the first a380 that came out of the assembly line…

Featured Comments Load all 18 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

CJ 923

For these A380, Maybe a possible move to ANA All Nippon Airlines to expand their A380 fleet.

Weymar Osborne

It would be interesting to see an analysis of whether there are any airlines out there for which picking up a few used A380's could make sense. Perhaps British Airways given how congested Heathrow is? Also, since ANA is using A380's to cater to tourist demand as opposed to business (given that they fly them all to Honolulu) I could potentially see a few other large tourist markets like Los Angeles and Paris when combined with the efficiencies of scale from having a few more units.

RF

Maybe one of those fantasy airlines will show interest.

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