WASHINGTON (REUTERS/BLOOMBERG) - Boeing has signed a memorandum of understanding to sell 16 aircraft to Malaysia Airlines, eight wide-body 787 Dreamliners and eight narrow-body 737 MAXs, the company said on Wednesday (Sept 13).
The eight 787-9s were converted from a prior 737 MAX order while Malaysia Airlines also added eight purchase rights over 737 MAX aircraft, Boeing said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the plan to buy additional planes for the country's flag carrier during a visit to the White House on Tuesday, telling US President Donald Trump that Malaysia Airlines would buy 25 Boeing 737 jets and eight 787 Dreamliners.
He said the airline would probably add another 25 737s in the near future, a deal he said would be worth more than US$10 billion (S$13.4 billion) within five years.
Boeing declined to comment on Najib's numbers. Malaysia Airlines in 2016 signed a deal to buy up to 50 737 MAX aircraft, which included 25 firm orders and 25 purchase rights.
Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Peter Bellew said in a statement that the range of the 787-9 would allow the carrier to operate to any point in Europe and some destinations in the United States. At present, the airline has an all Airbus SE widebody fleet.
Two industry sources on Tuesday told Reuters that Malaysia Airlines had considered buying Airbus A330neos before settling on the 787 order. The sources did not want to be named because the discussions were private.
Malaysia Airlines, taken private by the nation's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, has been trying to win back customers following two fatal air crashes in 2014. The carrier, on track to become profitable next year, has been adding more services in Asia after cutting jobs and unprofitable long-haul routes to keep the business afloat.
The airline leased six Airbus A350s from Air Lease Corp to offer flights to London next year. It also ordered 737 Max 9 and Max 10 aircraft from Boeing with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
The company should be cash-positive in the second half of 2018, Bellew said in July. China, India, Japan and Taiwan are its growth markets, and the airline will add more routes to these destinations over the next few years, he said.