Two Malaysia Airlines veterans have scoffed at a DAP MP’s suggestion that AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes be appointed to head the troubled airline.
Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, former CEO of Malaysia Airline System (MAS), the precursor to Malaysia Airlines Berhad, said AirAsia was the root of Malaysia Airline’s current problems.
“He is a competitor and the root cause for Malaysia Airlines losing money,” Aziz, who led the national airline for 10 years during its heyday, told FMT.
He said in the early stage, AirAsia was allowed to charge very low fares for domestic travel, something that the national carrier could not match.
“Imagine travelling to Kota Bharu for RM70 on AirAsia and RM100 on Malaysia Airlines. Which person in their right mind would fly the national carrier?” Aziz said.
Jelutong MP RSN Rayer reportedly said that Fernandes was the right person to revive Malaysia Airlines.
“We shall see if Fernandes can bring in profits for MAS or otherwise,” he said.
He said AirAsia has given MAS a run for its money.
“AirAsia is still new, compared to MAS, but the budget airline has managed to turn a profit,” Rayer said.
Aziz said he could not understand how Malaysia Airlines continued to post huge losses despite recording a load factor of 78%.
Load factor is a measure of the percentage the aircraft is filled.
“During my tenure, if you could achieve a load factor of 72%, you could record profits of millions of dollars,” said Aziz, who helmed MAS from 1981 to 1991.
Mohd Jabarullah Abdul Kadir, a former adviser to the Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union (Maseu), said Rayer’s idea was in poor taste.
“Malaysia Airlines is part of the national pride and it has sufficient talent pool to run it,” he said, adding that its parent company Khazanah Nasional, which took the airline private in 2014 with a RM6 billion plan to turn it around, made the mistake of bringing in foreigners to head the airline.
After it was privatised, Malaysia Airlines was led by German Christoph Mueller, who undertook a major retrenchment exercise of some 6,000 workers, before his shock resignation less than a year after his appointment. He was succeeded by Irishman Peter Bellew, who resigned to rejoin his former employer Ryanair.
Following its continued losses to the tune of billions of dollar, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced this month that the government had three options for Malaysia Airlines: close it down, sell it or refinance its debts.
Source : FMT