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Boeing to enhance presence in Malaysia
By ANNA MARIA SAMSUDIN
AMERICAN airframe maker Boeing Co, which is vying to replace Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) fleet of 737-400s, will be making two major moves to further enhance its presence in Malaysia.
In the next two weeks, it will announce the appointment of Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO
) facility in Subang as its first regional winglet modification centre.
In April, it plans to move its aileron manufacturing operations from Hawker de Havilland facility in Australia to the Asian Composite Manufacturing (ACM) facility in Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah. Boeing, Hexcel Corp, Naluri Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd are four joint-venture partners in ACM.
Boeing international sales director Paul G. Dubeck, in confirming a Business Times report, said the official announcements will be made soon.
Business Times reported last month that Boeing planned to intensify its presence in Malaysia, in line with its intention to become more than just a seller of products in the country.
Dubeck said Boeing is placing a high level of confidence in MAS and ACM to undertake the works.
“Looking at MAS’ expertise and hardware in its MRO
in Subang we are confident that the company will be able to take on the job well.
“As for the ACM, it is a lower cost but higher quality producer. Furthermore, we are putting other businesses in Australia and we are expanding ACM,” he said in Kuala Lumpur.
Dubeck said with some 1,000 757s and 767s without winglets, the deal is expected to contribute significantly to MAS earnings.
“As we are also looking for other suitable winglet modification centre operator in the region, MAS may not get to service all these 1,000 aircraft.
“However, since MAS would be the first in the region, I am sure that they will be able to secure a sizeable market share in this business,” he said.
Winglets are fin-like wings that help reduce wind resistance from the airplane, enabling better thrust movement and lift thus reducing fuel costs. It is designed by Aviation Partners in Seattle, a company consisting of retired Boeing aerodynamicists, who later formed a joint venture with Boeing called Aviation Partners Boeing.
Dubeck said ACM will also be advised to bid for the contract to manufacture the winglets here.
As for its aileron manufacturing operations, he said the official announcement will be when the first article or product inspection is carried out at ACM.
With the inclusion of aileron product line, ACM’s production is expected to increase by 15 per cent.
On proposal to replace MAS’ 39 737-400s with the new generation 737-800s, Dubeck said the company is hopeful to receive favourable reply from the airline by middle of this year.
“We are hopeful to hear something from MAS in the next two weeks. As this is a big decision, I think the process could take a little longer, probably until the middle of the year,” he said.