Malaysian Airlines is expanding its Airbus A350 fleet, starting with picking up a former Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) jet. Aside from a fresh coat of paint on the outside, the internal of the aircraft remains the same meaning high flyers will be benefitting with an upgraded and more modern A350. The former SAS A350 held the registration code of SE-RSB, but has now been re-registered as 9M-MAH with Malaysia Airlines.
Since Scandinavian Airlines filed for bankruptcy in June 2022, Air France-KLM has announced it will invest in the company. SAS is, however, still trying to cut costs, which involves eliminating certain jets like the Airbus A350 which Malaysia Airlines have now acquired.
Prior to its latest acquisition, Malaysia Airlines held a fleet of six Airbus A350s, which now means the carrier will increase to seven. Although the time length for how long Malaysia Airlines will fly this jet is unknown, it can be assumed that it won’t be short-term due to the airline requiring more capacity.
So how does this former Scandinavian Airlines A350 stack up against Malaysia Airlines' other A350s? The most essential thing to notice is that it is larger in terms of the number of seats on board. Malaysia Airlines A350s have a total of 286 seats, including 4 premium business seats, 35 business class seats, and 257 economy class seats. The SAS A350 has a total of 300 seats, including 40 Business Class seats, 32 premium economy seats, and 228 economy seats. Other key changes to note are:
SAS standard Business Class seats are slightly better than Malaysia Airlines'; however, their staggered seating arrangements are essentially the same.
There's a fantastic opportunity for some Economy travellers to experience Premium Economy, as Malaysia Airlines will be offering the SAS A350's premium economy cabin as regular economy.
With no confirmed actions of Malaysia Airlines configuring this A350 jet any time soon, the opportunity for Business Class passengers has widened, with an added 5 extra seats available to purchase. In 2025, Malaysia Airlines has announced plans to retrofit all of its A350s, meaning a sneak peak of the uniform interior will eventually be available.
What is Malaysia Airlines' strategy for the upcoming Airbus A350? As a result of its initial configuration, it will fly a particular route in order to facilitate planning. According to AeroRoutes, the plan is for the aircraft to begin daily nonstop flights between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Melbourne (MEL) on December 31, 2023. It will specifically run at the following frequency:
Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur (MH149) departs at 10:20 PM and arrives at 9:15 AM (+1 day)
Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur (MH148) departs at 3:10 PM and arrives at 8:25 PM
Given that the route can be run effectively with one frame per day, it makes sense that the plane would receive this kind of rotation.
With Malaysia Airlines code sharing flights with Oman Air, we should see a touch more Business Class availability to Europe as a result of this fleet expansion. Due to high demand to key European destinations such as Milan and London, now is the time to book your Business Class flights to Europe to avoid missing out.
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