Don’t sell off Malaysia Airlines, urges Najib

Najib Razak greeting students who were flown home on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Egypt in 2011. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak today called on the government to refer back to the turnaround plan implemented during his administration instead of selling off or closing down Malaysia Airlines Berhad.

“It’ll be a wrong move. Malaysia Airlines is our pride and joy.

“When I was Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s chairman, the turnaround plan was working. It just needed a bit more time,” Najib said at the Parliament lobby.

He said the government had been confident the turnaround plan would work.

“We had a very ‘humane’ voluntary separation scheme. We pruned down the number of employees,” he said.

Najib said the decrease in the number of tourists, especially Chinese tourists, had also affected Malaysia Airlines.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia Airlines could be sold off or shut down if the government decides not to inject more funds into the ailing airline.

Mahathir’s statement came after Khazanah, who is also the sole shareholder of Malaysia Airlines, reported a loss of RM6.3 billion last year, the first time since 2005. Khazanah took over Malaysia Airlines in 2014.

The airline has been trying to transform its operations and return to profitability by 2019 as it recovers from two disasters in 2014, when flight MH370 disappeared in what remains a mystery and flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.