Future of Malaysian Airlines up in the air, as political support falters

Zürich, Switzerland - December 05, 2007: Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER departing Zurich airport. On 08 March 2014 this aircraft crashed as flight MH 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Malaysia Airlines is reportedly struggling to make payments owed to its creditors and lessors amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced it to slash its operations.

According to Reuters, Malaysia’s flag carrier has a new plan involving big discounts from creditors, but the nation’s government is reportedly unwilling to bail it out.

Malaysia’s Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, said earlier this month that the government will not provide financial relief or debt guarantees, raising questions about the airline’s fate.

State fund Khazanah Nasional is the sole shareholder of Malaysian Airlines’ parent company and delisted it in 2014 as part of a $1.5 billion restructuring, which saw its staff numbers cut by 6,000, or about 30 per cent, Reuters reported.

Khazanah Nasional had targeted a return to profit in three years, but it has not been profitable yet.

Malaysia Airlines seemingly confirmed the news, with a spokesperson telling Travel Weekly: “Our focus now is to get our lessors, creditors and key suppliers to help us achieve mutual agreement to make the restructuring work.

“We are prepared to reset the company and start afresh if the plan fails.”

The news comes as Malaysian Airlines announced plans to offer employees the opportunity to reskill, through its recently introduced MH EDGILE program.

The program is open to more than 2,000 employees, mainly pilot, cabin crew and other front-line community members who are affected due to the current reduced network and operational capacity.

MH EDGILE provides opportunities for the employees to be upskilled and reskilled for other job competencies either in specialised competency such as facilities management and auditing or general and trainable areas such as sales and the IT helpdesk.

Malaysian Airlines said the program also enables employees to lend their expertise and services to support “the long-term business sustainability of the company” and explore new avenues to grow and develop their potential at the company.

Subject to approval, these group of employees will be temporarily re-assigned to support other departments that require workforce for critical roles or job functions resulting from the constrained workforce due to added deliverables and attrition.

Malaysia Aviation Group chief executive Izham Ismail said now was the perfect time for staff to “reinvent themselves”.

“With the pandemic still showing little sign of improvement, forcing some airlines to halt operations and ground almost fleet, it is important for us to prepare our workforce with new skill sets to become more efficient in their current roles or shift into emerging positions as well as to support the business goals,” Ismail said.

Featured image source: iStock/Jetlinerimages

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