No full privatisation, job cuts for Malaysia Airlines, say ex-CEO and union

The government is looking into proposals to revive Malaysia Airlines.

KUALA LUMPUR: Keep Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) as the national carrier without full privatisation and job cuts.

This is what a Malaysian Airlines veteran and a flight attendants’ union have suggested as the government explores ways to revive the ailing carrier.

They said the best option would be a joint venture, with the government remaining as the majority shareholder of MAB.

Full private ownership of the airline would undermine national interests, they cautioned.

Malaysia Airlines’ former chief executive officer, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, said a joint venture would be the best option to resuscitate MAB given the government has not enough budget to power the airline.

“Everything depends on the government. It can even dispose of its entire stake (in MAB) as it is its right,” he told Bernama.

Aziz said, however, the government should continue to run the airline but with the cooperation of private parties.

“That’s the better way (to do it),” he said.

The president of National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM), Ismail Nasaruddin, said the government should continue to have the “golden share” in MAB.

“Otherwise, it will become a private entity where they (the owners) can slash 10,000 workers just like that,” he told Bernama.

Ismail said the performance of Malaysia Airlines should be monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office or finance ministry.

He said the stake of Khazanah Nasional Bhd as the sole shareholder in the airline could be reduced to allow new partners to come on board.

“All this while, Khazanah has been the one to come up with turnaround plans, which have not worked.

“The government must allow a fresh team (on the board and management of MAB) to lead the airline,” he said.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported as saying the government was willing to give up its majority stake in MAB with two conditions – no more lay-offs and the airline’s identity retained.

He also said all proposals submitted to the government, whether from consortiums, entrepreneurs and companies, would undergo thorough stud, especially on the capabilities of the people who may want to take over the airline.