MAB: There should be no compromise


I REFER to the story “Air France-KLM eyes 49% of MAS” in The Star on Jan 22 (online at bit.ly/star_

airline).The stakeholders of Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) should seriously consider whether selling a stake to a third party foreign investor would resurrect the carrier and put it on a firm footing again in the market.

The flag carrier has gone through five restructuring exercises since October 2000, including a major one in 2014/2015 which reduced its workforce by 6,000; it has also shed much of its international network.

In fact, it is mind-boggling that 40 international destinations have been axed leaving London currently as its only European destination. The most recent cities dropped were second-tier cities in China, Nanjing Fuzhou, Chongqing, Wuhan and Haikou.

A foreigner was brought in in 2014 to helm the bleeding MAB with high expectations that he could and would deliver. Unfortunately, he threw in the towel after six months, probably finding the seat too hot. The big mistake was that he had a background in low cost airlines but he was hired to handle a full-service airline. Another foreigner was then given the task to continue from where the first person left of. He too threw in the towel.

Those concerned should take pride in keeping MAB 100% Malaysian-owned, as it is our flag carrier.

What is important is for the new MAB to have a top-notch leader who knows the complexities of the airline business, including understanding what yield is about. His priority must be the will to rebuild the airline. An investment would be needed to correct the current image of the airline, its service and inflight product offerings.

The carrier should also look at evaluating medium-to-long range aircraft to plan its fleet after 2025 and replace its 15 Airbus A330-300 jetliners.

There should be no compromise.

Two carriers in the region were in worse financial situations with debts running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Both picked up the crumbs, invested to upgrade their service and inflight products, and re-fleeted the airline. Both are now continuously expanding their networks and ordering aircraft with new technology for future expansion. If these two airlines could get out of the rut and make an impact in the market, why can’t MAB?

It is an undoubted fact that MAB is facing stiff competition. But the leaner you make your inflight products, the more difficult it is to keep abreast with the competition.

Every airline, whether full-

service or low cost, is going through turbulent weather. MAB should not try to compete with AirAsia on fares, as MAB is a premium airline. With low cost carriers having changed the landscape of the aviation industry, MAB should consider re-launching FireFly’s jet operations to enable the airline to compete in the low cost market instead. A full-service carrier competing with low cost carriers will only result in financial disaster.

Also, with Airbus terminating the A380 programme, MAB must plan how long more it will be feasible operationally to utilise the six A380 aircraft it has and what routes to deploy them on.

WILLIAM DENNIS ,Subang Jaya, Selangor

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