MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS), which currently offers flight crew training to 16 airlines, aims to develop its facility in Subang into a regional centre for flight crew training.
To realise this goal, in addition to the RM50mil invested to install a B747-400 full flight simulator, MAS plans to buy the A380 full flight simulator so that it can conduct flight crew training for the super jumbo in Malaysia.
It is hoping that airlines that have ordered the Airbus A380 would eventually use its facility to train their pilots.
Apart from MAS, which via its parent Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd has ordered six A380 whose deliveries are expected from early 2007, Singapore Airlines and Thai International Airways have also ordered the super jumbo jets.
“We have requested for proposals from the manufacturers to buy a A380 full flight simulator and we expect it to be installed at Subang by the end of 2006,’’ MAS senior general manger for flight operations, Datuk Captain Nawawi Awang, said after the commissioning of a B747-400 full flight simulator in Subang yesterday.
With the latest addition, MAS now has seven flight simulators to train flight crews of AIRASIA, Royal Brunei Airlines, Qantas Airways, Emirates Airlines and even Philippines Airlines.
Nawawi said even Sudan Air had their pilots trained in Subang and that was why MAS was keen to promote the centre for aviation training and would invest further to maintain the facility.
MAS bought the B747-400 flight simulator from Thales, an international electronics and systems group serving the defence, aerospace and security markets. It had installed its first simulator for Fokker F27 on May 17, 1975 and it now operates a full-fledged flight simulator-training centre with a simulator fleet of B747-400, B777-200, A330-300, Fokker F50 and B737-400.
The centre earned RM11mil in total revenue over the past three years but Nawawi wants the centre to earn more and he is looking at RM50mil income a year in the future.
Asked about hedging, MAS managing director Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahlan said MAS' board had approved for the airline to hedge up to 80% of its fuel requirements and the carrier had specialists to monitor and do everything possible to get good prices to meet its fuel demand.
But he would not give the percentage of oil hedged for the current quarter although for the final quarter of 2004, MAS had 77% of its oil requirements hedged.
Rising oil prices would have an impact on earnings for most airlines and MAS would not be spared. As Fuaad put it, “nobody is comfortable if oil prices keep rising’’ but global airlines have to continue with their operations and expansion plans, and MAS would remain “vigilant of its costs’’.
Asked if airfares would rise due to higher oil prices, Fuaad said airfares were based on market demand (and supply). “But when an airline upgrades and improves its services to increase its competitive edge, then there is a certain price to be paid.’’
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