Friday, 17 November 2017

Malaysia Airlines’ recovery shadowed by politics

Buffeted by two of global aviation's recent worst disasters, the renationalized carrier's foreign-led restructuring has been hit by alleged political meddling

Buffeted by two of global aviation’s worst disasters in recent history, Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) plans for a turnaround were never going to be easy. Alleged political meddling in the state-held airline is complicating matters, with the recent resignation of two foreign chief executives raising even wider questions.

In August 2014, Khazanah Nasional, Berhad a Malaysian state investment fund that previously owned 69% of the carrier, became its sole stakeholder in a US$430 million bailout.

Earlier that year, MAS lost two aircraft, the still unresolved disappearance of Flight MH370 and the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine, sending its finances into a downward spiral.

The national carrier was delisted from the country’s stock market, effectively renationalizing the carrier, and aggressively restructured. Khazanah unveiled a five-year recovery plan, dubbed as “rebuilding a national icon”, to reverse massive losses and return to profitability in three years. The plan set a target date of March 2019 for a new initial public offering.

Two foreign chief executives were hired in short succession to professionalize management and in hope that international expertise could restore its fortunes. MAS has cut 6,000 jobs since Khazanah’s takeover while various unprofitable long-haul routes to North and South America have been discontinued.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at