PETALING JAYA: A Malaysia Airlines veteran has urged the government to keep Khazanah Nasional out of the picture in its planning for the airline’s future.
“Khazanah cannot be involved because we have found, after many years, that it cannot come up with a good plan,” said Jabarullah Abdul Kadir, a former adviser to the Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union.
He was commenting on Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement yesterday that Putrajaya was considering a number of options in its plan to revive the national carrier.
The prime minister told the Dewan Rakyat the government had yet to decide whether to sell the airline or have it collaborate with another company or start another recovery plan.
He assured the Dewan that the government would maintain some role in the company to preserve its national identity and would prevent the retrenchment of workers.
Khazanah currently owns Malaysia Airlines.
Jabarullah said the company had enough people to run it without Khazanah’s interference.
Critics have said that Khazanah, which took Malaysia Airlines private in 2014 with a RM6 billion turnaround plan, made the mistake of hiring foreigners to head the airline.
It appointed German national Christoph Mueller as the airline’s CEO in 2015. Mueller undertook a major retrenchment exercise before resigning in July 2016, two years before his contract was supposed to end.
He was succeeded by Irishman Peter Bellew, who resigned in October 2017 to rejoin his former employer, Ryanair.
Jabarullah said he trusted that Mahathir would find a good turnaround plan, but added that he would have to pick “really sincere people” to carry it out.
He repeated an earlier call against giving “special privileges” to AirAsia. “Whatever privileges the government can give must go to the national airline,” he said.
He also called for a reversal of the decision to allow Malindo, the low-cost airline owned by an Indonesian company, to operate at KLIA’s main terminal. It should return to Terminal 2, he said.