Empty Malaysia planes herald “no surprise” restructure

My partner flew Malaysia Airlines two weeks ago and had the choice of four empty rows of five seats per economy passenger to stretch out in. This was how empty the plane was.

A photo doing the rounds of the internet shows a starkly empty Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 operating as flight 146. The service which departed Melbourne at 740am flying direct to Kuala Lumpur arriving at 1415 on Thursday 14 August 2014 had about 60 people on board.

My next Malaysia Airlines flight is in two weeks. I called to arrange a “good seat” to find that all of the bulk head and all emergency exit seats are currently empty. This is unusual so close to take off and suggests that the load on my flight will be light.

mh 146

While very comfortable for passengers, there is no way any airline can sustain this. Already in financial trouble at the start of 2014, the carrier is estimated to be losing $US2 million a day after tragically losing two planes. They have been attempting to fill planes with cheap fares. We have been finding fares way below discount carrier Air Asia.

Today, the long awaited restructure was announced by the airline’s largest shareholder  Khazanah Nasional Bhd. Some of the actions are ones I foreshadowed in May. The 12 point plan called Rebuilding A National Icon – The MAS Recovery Plan” includes:

  •  creating a new airline company by 1 July 2015 which presumably will have a name other than Malaysia Airlines. Currently Khazanah are calling it “Newco”. I am curious to know what the name could be. Air Malaysia? New Malaysia Airlines? Hibiscus Malaysia (after the national flower), Aero Malaysia?
  • de-listing from the Kuala Lumpur Stock exchange by the end of 2014
  • re-listing by 2019 on the Stock Exchange
  • keeping current CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya ntil July 2015
  • aiming to return to profitability by end of 2017
  • shedding six thousand of the 20 000 strong workforce with Khazanah  investing in a “Corporate Reskilling Centre” to assist MAS staff who did not go to NewCo. This includes transferring 3,500 MAS workers to other companies owned by Khazanah Nasional
  • focusing on being a regional carrier- I assume this means flights between KL and Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Londom will go. I am also assuming their discount subsidary Firefly will be sold off

Malaysia Airlines has a 5 star rating from Skytrax yet only comes in at 18th on their latest ranking of airlines. Never understand how that works. Surely all of the five star airlines should be at the top of the list. It was 14th place last year and tenth the year before. I rate them at 84% which puts them in the top 12 of the airlines I have flown (out of the 88 airlines I have been on).



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  1. They have 6 A380s. I see that 2 will continue to fly to London but what do you think they’ll do with their other 4?

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