When he took over as MD, MAS was just beginning to spread its wings. There were many challenges to be faced such as increase in fuel prices and competition with more established airlines in the region like Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Thai International. It was also a time when foreign governments were protective of their airlines and MAS had difficulty securing traffic rights to expand our network.
But through his leadership, Aziz gave us the confidence to compete with the best in the world, which we did.
It was not long before MAS started being recognised for its golden service, living up to its brand – MAS. The cabin crew won awards for excellent service and pilots were recognised for their professionalism and flying capability. The excellent maintenance, repair and overhaul services (MRO) provided by MAS attracted other airlines, even bigger ones, to send their aircraft to MAS for maintenance.
MAS joined IATA (International Air Transport Association) during this period and began to play a role on the international scene. Many code-share agreements and joint operations were established.
The expansion of the network was not without difficulties. Traffic rights, which would allow MAS to increase frequencies and operate to new destinations, needed to be secured. Aziz himself got involved in these negotiations for traffic rights together with the Malaysian government.
It was during this time that MAS was able to use its B747 aircraft to operate to long-haul destinations like Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and many cities in Europe. In fact, MAS was the only airline in the region to operate to all five continents.
In every area of the company, from the front line like check-in to back-room like finance and planning, MAS employees worked with great dedication and sincere loyalty. There was great harmony with the unions and camaraderie among staff. It was a period of joy and celebration as MAS started to expand its network.
It was certainly the golden years as we would like to remember it.
Aziz will be fondly remembered for his many services to the nation, and rightly so.
TAN SRI BASHIR AHMAD
Former staff of Malaysia Airlines
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