KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said that failure to revive Malaysia Airlines in the past has led to the possibility of the national carrier having to stop all flights in order to trim its expenditure.
The prime minister said Malaysia Airlines had undergone numerous management changes.
“Each of them promised to revive Malaysia Airlines but, unfortunately, they couldn’t overcome the airline’s problems.
“That is why today, we face the possibility of flights being stopped altogether so that we can save money to revive (Malaysia Airlines),” he told the Dewan Rakyat.
Mahathir was responding to a supplementary question by Mustapa Mohamed (PH-Jeli), who asked if there was a sustainable plan for Malaysia Airlines in the face of domestic and international competition.
He said Putrajaya is prepared to listen to all proposals, including offers of a takeover and for collaboration with other airlines.
“All of this will be reviewed by Malaysia Airlines’ management and the government so that when we act on it, Malaysia Airlines won’t just be revived but will perform better.”
He added that whatever the government decides to do, the Malaysian identity of the airline will be retained.
“We also hope that whatever measures we take, we won’t need to retrench employees.
“If we do sell (Malaysia Airlines) to another company, or if we collaborate with another company, we will include a requirement that we will not get rid of current employees.”
At the Parliament lobby later, Mahathir told reporters that Putrajaya does not want to keep bailing Malaysia Airlines out “so many times”.
He added however that the government must have some say in the carrier’s fate.
“We may not have the majority share, but we have to preserve some role as the government or a shareholder, to maintain its identity as the national carrier.”
Yesterday, Mahathir said the government had received four takeover offers for Malaysia Airlines, the majority of which are from locals.
However, he said no decision has been made as the government is still studying the offers and looking for “somebody who is experienced”.