Bring back maintenance role, ex-CEO urges new MAS chief

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KUALA LUMPUR: The first thing that Capt Izham Ismail must do after he takes the helm at Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) is to bring back the aircraft’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility, instead of outsourcing it.

That’s the advice of former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) CEO Abdul Aziz Rahman, who said that the incoming group chief executive officer must make engineering a priority once again.

“The airline had closed down the MRO facility and outsourced it to Singapore and so on, which was a very bad move,” Aziz told FMT.

He called for a plan to slowly build up the local division, as there are existing facilities here, saying that there are many experienced engineers who had been retrenched.

Malaysian Airlines laid off about 6,000 workers two years ago as part of its restructuring exercise following massive losses, coupled with the double tragedy of losing flight MH370 and flight MH17 between March and July 2014.

Meanwhile, Aziz said the second priority for Izham should be to discuss the distribution of routes with the government.

“Especially taking into account that Malaysia Airlines is the national carrier, so there are certain routes that Malaysia Airlines must operate and be dominant.

“We cannot allow some private companies to just jeopardise their chances,” he said.

Izham will assume his new role on Dec 1, succeeding Peter Bellew, who is currently on administrative leave after deciding to rejoin his former employer Ryanair in Ireland.

Izham has had 38 years of experience in the aviation industry, having started his career with Malaysia Airlines as a pilot in 1979.

He has broken a few world aviation records, including one when he flew Malaysia Airlines’ first B777-200 eastward from Seattle to Kuala Lumpur and back.

Prior to becoming COO in 2016, he served as CEO of MASwings, Malaysia Airlines’ sister company in Sabah and Sarawak.