In 1947, a Malayan Airways six seater Airspeed Consul took off from Sinagpore to Kuala Lumpur beginning what became the five star Malaysia Airlines we know today with their 98 strong fleet including 380s flying to 60 destinations. Malaysia Airlines has for years, epitomised to me the romance of flying. Friendly attentive crews who worked hard to take passengers to exotic places like Sabah, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. Their clean comfortable interesting planes and great service have made my travels a delight.
All of this will come to an end by September 1 under a restructuring plan announced by newly-appointed CEO Christoph Mueller.
And so it must.
Malaysia Airlines is incredibly overstaffed. I sometimes counted more staff in the regional lounge at Kuala Lumpur than passengers. Mueller plans to shed 6 000 of the 20 000 staff. I really feel for them but it could have been avoided it action had been taken earlier. If the mission of the airline is to soak up labour, then overstaffing is okay but if it is meant to run in the black then people have to go.
Costs are way too high compared to their major competitor. Air Asia, carried 50 million passengers in 2014, three times Malaysia’s numbers at a total operating cost per available seat kilometre half that of Malaysia’s. Yet the flag carrier has been slow to respond on that cost front. They cut fares to fill planes but this resulted in such financial blow out that Mueller says the airline is technically bankrupt and they need cut costs by at least 20%.
Their Brand name is too damaged to be kept so it will be replaced on September 1. Every time I have flown Malaysia in the last year, people have rolled their eyes. Their two terrible tragedies have irrevocably lost them customer support cancelling out in customer’s minds their many awards through their history.
The move to reduce their fleet has started with its six A380s up for sale (albeit with no buyers)
Their route map needs to be chopped but I understand their Frequent Flyer and One World alliance membership are both safe.
It is a sad day for Malaysia Airlines but also a good one because the country will keep their flag carrier- what ever it is called.
- For Sale: Malaysia’s Six Airbus 380s
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- Empty Malaysia planes herald “no surprise” restructure