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Turkish Airlines said to consider A380 lease from Malaysian Airlines

ISTANBUL — Turkish Airlines is considering leasing two Airbus A380 superjumbos from Malaysian Airlines, giving the rapidly expanding carrier a test run at the world’s largest plane, according to people familiar with the plan.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

ISTANBUL — Turkish Airlines is considering leasing two Airbus A380 superjumbos from Malaysian Airlines, giving the rapidly expanding carrier a test run at the world’s largest plane, according to people familiar with the plan.

Senior management will ask for approval from the board in coming days to enter formal talks with Malaysian Airlines, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Malaysian Airlines, which operates six A380s in its fleet, no longer needs the capacity, another person said.

Offloading parts of its A380 fleet would help Malaysian Airlines in its efforts to rescale its business after two aircraft disasters last year. Turkish Airlines is among the fastest growing carriers in the world and so far doesn’t operate the double-decker, which could support the flag carrier’s push to establish Istanbul as a transfer hub for travel between Europe and the US and Asia, mirroring the strategies of top Gulf carriers located further south-east.

A spokesman for Turk Hava Yollari, as Turkish Airlines is formally known, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Toulouse, France-based Airbus Group. Malaysian Airlines’ press office didn’t respond to a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.

RAPID GROWTH

Turkish Airlines is expanding its fleet at a rate of almost three planes a month after ordering 117 aircraft from Airbus and 95 from Boeing. Focusing on higher frequencies has meant that until now Turkish wasn’t ready to take on high-capacity planes, though a chance to lease a small number of A380s, without the commitment to purchasing, would allow the carrier to test whether it has sufficient demand.

Malaysian Airlines is looking to lease out the superjumbos because traffic has waned following two disasters last year. Early last year, a Malaysian Air Boeing 777 disappeared, and no trace of the plane has been found to date, with all occupants officially declared dead. In July, another Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 crashed in Ukraine following a suspected missile attack, also killing everyone on board.

For Airbus, which has struggled to find new customers for the A380, even a small lease agreement involving the large plane would offer a respite, as it would give a fast-growing carrier the chance to assess the plane with a view toward possibly buying or leasing more in the future.

Airbus has failed to find a new airline buyer for its A380 since 2013. Its only purchaser last year was a leasing company, Amedeo, that has yet to line up a single carrier to take any of the 20 it ordered.

Leasing a plane from another company typically comes in two forms. A dry lease would hand over the Malaysia A380s to Turkish but require the new operator’s pilots and flight attendants to get trained up for the plane. A wet-lease would include trained pilots and flight attendants. BLOOMBERG

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