Airbus and Malaysia have been strategic partners for more than 40 years, going back to when Malaysia Airlines ordered the original A300B4 widebody aircraft. Since then, the country has become a key customer base for the company in the Asia-Pacific region across its commercial aircraft, defence, space and helicopter product lines. Beyond the commercial success, Airbus also has developed strong industrial partnerships with Malaysia that have brought multiple benefits to the country’s economy.
Malaysia is the largest supplier base for Airbus in South East Asia, with its aerospace firms producing aerostructures and components across the company’s product line. Airbus also has set up maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and training facilities in the country and is involved in research and technology (R&T) activities locally.
Airbus is the leading supplier of civil aircraft to Malaysia. With more than 765 aircraft ordered by airlines in the country, Malaysia is Airbus’ third-largest market in the Asia-Pacific region after China and India.
The relationship began in August 1978, when Malaysia Airlines placed its first order for the original A300B4 and became one of the European manufacturer's earliest customers.
In 1989 and 1990, the carrier ordered 10 new twin-engine widebody A330-300s. Since the A330 entered service with Malaysia Airlines in 1995, it has become a proven and popular choice with passengers flying on its Asia-Pacific route network. Malaysia Airlines had 15 A330-300 and six A330-200 passenger aircraft in its fleet as of October 2020. Additionally, its subsidiary MASkargo had three A330-200F freighters.
In 2012, Malaysia Airlines and Airbus marked a major milestone in their relationship when the carrier became a new operator of the A380. As of October 2020, the carrier had taken delivery of six A380s, including the 100th A380 aircraft to be delivered.
In September 2015, Malaysia Airlines signed a lease agreement with Air Lease Corporation for six A350-900s. The first aircraft was delivered in November 2017, and as of October 2020, the airline today had six A350 XWBs in its fleet.
AirAsia, now the region’s largest low-cost carrier, became a new Airbus customer in March 2005 when it signed a contract for 60 A320s. It has since placed several repeat orders including a mega-deal for 200 A320neo aircraft at the 2011 Paris Air Show and another for 100 A320s in December 2012. At the 2016 Farnborough Airshow, AirAsia signed a firm order for 100 A321neo aircraft, its first deal for the largest member of the best-selling A320 Family.
In June 2019 at the Paris Air Show, AirAsia converted 253 of its A320neo order to the larger A321neo, making it the world’s largest customer for the A321neo. This brings the total number of A320 Family aircraft ordered by AirAsia to 592 (188 A320ceo, 51 A320neo, and 353 A321neo), as of October 2020.
To date, AirAsia has taken delivery of more than 225 A320s directly from Airbus, including its first A320neo in September 2016.
AirAsia X, the long-haul low-cost affiliate of the AirAsia Group, has a fleet of more than 35 Airbus A330 widebody aircraft. These are part of the fleet of the flagship Malaysian airline, as well as its units in Thailand and Indonesia.
The relationship began in 2007, when AirAsia X signed a contract for 15 A330-300s and subsequently increased that order to 31 aircraft. In December 2014, the airline ordered 55 of the updated A330neo aircraft and converted 11 of its earlier A330-300 orders to the newer variant. This brought its total A330neo orders to 66 aircraft.
In late August 2019, AirAsia X finalised a firm order with Airbus for an additional 12 A330-900 and 30 A321XLR aircraft. This increased the number of A330neo aircraft ordered by AirAsia X to 78.
Airbus is a leader in Malaysia’s rotorcraft segment with over 80 helicopters in service in the country. This includes the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF) fleet of multi-role H225M helicopters, the Royal Malaysian Navy’s AS555SN Fennec rotorcraft, and the Royal Malaysian Police’s AS355 fleet. In the civil and para-public segments, helicopters such as the AS365, H130, H135 and H145 also are popular on missions including search and rescue, emergency medical services and passenger transport.
In 2002, the company set up its Airbus Helicopters Malaysia subsidiary to be closer to its customers. From its base in Subang, the company offers services including the sale and distribution of helicopter products and services, and maintenance, overhaul and modification work, logistics support, ground handling and hangarage. In 2018, Malaysia was appointed the regional helicopter MRO Hub for the Asia-Pacific, as well as the regional completion and delivery centre.
Subang also is the location of Airbus Helicopters Malaysia Simulation Centre, a joint venture with Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation. It houses the region’s only training simulators for the H225 and H225M helicopters, as well as a second simulator for AS365 Dauphin training.
Malaysia also is the first export nation for the A400M airlifter, with the RMAF taking delivery of its fourth aircraft in 2017. This allowed the country to become the first operator to stand up a full squadron. The RMAF has since become a highly experienced operator of this new-generation airlifter, with the aircraft deployed on various missions including support for humanitarian work in the region.
Airbus has been providing space imagery to Malaysia since 1998. In 2014, Airbus delivered MEASAT-3b, the largest satellite ordered by the country’s communication sector. Operated by Malaysia’s MEASAT, this satellite supports demand for video and data services across Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Australia.
In 2019, Airbus was selected by MEASAT to build MEASAT-3d, a new multi-mission telecommunications satellite to replace capacity and augment MEASAT‘s core business in Malaysia, Asia, Middle East and Africa. The plan is to launch the new satellite in 2021.
For Maritime Surveillance and Security, Airbus has enjoyed a 100% market share in Malaysia with its STYRIS® solution for coastal surveillance with critical areas secured along the Straits of Malacca and in East Malaysia, supporting the various local governmental agencies for the past 15 years.
Malaysia is one of Airbus’ main industrial partners in Asia, and every Airbus aircraft flying across the globe today has parts produced in Malaysia.
CTRM is one of the world’s top five suppliers of composite structures to Airbus. It provides a complete range of manufacturing expertise, most notably the production of wing components for the A320 Family, A350 XWB and A380, nacelles for the A350 XWB and various aerostructures for the A400M military airlifter.
SME Aerospace is one of the Airbus’ earliest industrial partners in Malaysia. Since 1998, it has been manufacturing wing components for the A320 Family, the A330 Family, the A380 and the A350 XWB. It also manufactures parts for Airbus Helicopters. Another key partner is Spirit Aerosystems Malaysia, which assembles various wing components for the A320 Family and widebody A350 XWB.
Strand Aerospace Malaysia is engaged in engineering services, carrying out design and certification analysis of aircraft structures across almost all Airbus aircraft family types including the A320 Family, A330, A350 XWB, A380 and A400M. Strand also supports the company’s suppliers in Malaysia in the design and certification of parts such as the A380 underwing panels, and new toolsets for the A320 and A350 XWB.
In 2016, Airbus underscored its continued support to the development of Malaysia’s aerospace industry with the selection of SDMK Sdn Bhd as one of its global suppliers for the supply of jigs. SDMK reproduces large assembly jigs for the repair of composite aircraft rudders and elevators for the A320 and A330 programmes.
MRO, Services and Research & Technology
Airbus also has increased its industrial footprint in Malaysia with the expansion and acquisition of Sepang Aircraft Engineering (SAE) and the establishment of an Airbus Customer Services Centre.
SAE is a Malaysia-based, fully-owned subsidiary of Airbus. The EASA-approved independent maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider specialises in commercial aircraft, engines and components. SAE has two hangars with a combined floor area of some 50,000 square metres. The first hangar can accommodate up to six single-aisle aircraft or two wide-body aircraft, while the second hangar can accommodate two A320 aircraft at any one time for major maintenance checks.
The Airbus Malaysia Customer Services facility, which is 100% owned by Airbus, is located adjacent to SAE. It is an expansion of the aircraft manufacturer’s global network of offices providing 24/7 specialised major aircraft engineering and repair services.
Airbus is a founding partner in the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC) alongside the Malaysian government, CTRM and Rolls-Royce. AMIC was established in 2011 to encourage aerospace research and technology (R&T) activities in areas including sustainable aviation and the MRO sector, and to develop skills and resources in strategic areas.