No proposal yet to turn Malaysia Airlines around, says Dr M

PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Putrajaya has yet to receive any viable turnaround plan for struggling carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd.

The prime minister acknowledged problems at Malaysia Airlines including the incurrence of losses and bad management which he said made it difficult to come up with a turnaround plan.

“The previous government gave it RM6 billion and sacked 6,000 people. It also cut down its routes.

“If you cut the number of people but there is less work, there is no actual gain. Everyone tells me we should do it this way or that, but we have not received any viable solutions,” he said in a press conference here today.

He did not rule out the possibility of selling the airline, noting that many national airlines had been sold to “other people” as competition increases in the industry due to the emergence of low-cost carriers.

However, he said the government has yet to decide on Malaysia Airlines’ fate.

In March, Mahathir said the carrier could be sold off or shut down if the government decides not to inject more funds.

His remarks came after Khazanah, the sole shareholder of Malaysia Airlines, reported a loss of RM6.3 billion last year for the first time since 2005. Khazanah took over Malaysia Airlines in 2014.

Khazanah previously pumped in RM6 billion to rescue the airline, with plans to have it re-listed in 2018 as part of its restructuring exercise.

The airline had been trying to transform its operations and return to profitability by 2019 following the twin disasters of MH370, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and MH17 which was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Both tragedies occurred in 2014.