PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd (MAG), the owner of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS), has promoted key personnel to assume top management roles at a new carrier that it is setting up.
The new enterprise, which MAG has identified as Project Hope, is expected to start flying Muslim pilgrims to Mecca by the end of next year.
In an internal memo dated May 9 to MAG staff sighted by StarBiz, MAG chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Bellew said the group had appointed MAS head of charter operations Yazid Mohamed as the new airline’s head of commercial effective May 1.
He is to be joined by Muhammad Najmi Mansor, who is taking the role of chief financial officer in the project, and head of human resources Zuraidah Mat Dol.
“The external search for (Project Hope’s) CEO is under way and the board of directors will be appointed shortly,” Bellew said in the memo.
In the meantime, the current management team at Project Hope will be led by Bellew and MAG chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof.
Other key appointments announced include the respective leadership in charge of the new airline’s flight operations, ground operations, training and technical services.
“We are already working to identify adequate replacements for them to ensure business continuity,” Bellew said, adding that the new appointees would have to perform dual roles within the group until their replacements are found.
“During the initial stages, prior to the Department of Civil Aviation approvals, as well as availability of support and resources, the new airline’s team will be based at the South Support Zone (SSZ),” Bellew said
The SSZ building is located within the KL International Airport area in Sepang.
As it is, Project Hope is being set up to absorb MAS’ surplus fleet of six Airbus A380 super jumbo planes.
These aircraft, which are being phased out from its London route, will be transferred to the new airline next year.
MAG had initially wanted to sell the A380s, but dropped the idea due to the unfavourable market condition.
This is largely because big aircraft like the A380 have recently fallen out of favour, with more airlines switching to smaller jets that are easier to fill and cheaper to fly.
MAG’s plans to start a new carrier dedicated to fly Muslim pilgrims to Mecca was first reported in November last year.
The aviation group currently houses MAS, Firefly and MASwings, which are network carriers serving the global and domestic markets and all passenger segments.
Under its umbrella is the division MAS Kargo that provides standard, express and special cargo services. This division is also being structured to operate as a separate company.
In a interview with Bernama last month, Bellew said the new airline could begin flying Muslim pilgrims from Malaysia and around the world to Mecca by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
He said the group’s existing fleet of A380s will be retrofitted with new seating configuration to cater to the pilgrim market.
In March, the Saudi Arabian government had agreed to increase the quota for Malaysia’s pilgrims to 30,200 beginning from this year’s haj season from 27,900 last year.
Outside the annual haj season, millions of Muslims from all over the world visit the holy land every year to perform their umrah.
Did you find this article insightful?