Malaysia Airlines must show continuous improvement to get funding support

Malaysia Airlines must show continuous improvement to get funding support

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) must show continuous improvement if it wants to receive financial support from major shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar said any form of remuneration to the ailing national carrier was "conditional" and also dependent on whether MAS achieved its targets.

"We work within a corporate governance structure and while we have a good and close working relationship (with MAS), we also have a contractual agreement."

He said a criteria under Khazanah's 12-point recovery plan for MAS was "conditional capital," whereby the airline would need to meet certain milestones to be able to qualify for financial support.

"We define what these milestones are," Azman said at a press conference in conjunction with Khazanah's 12th Annual Review yesterday.

The recovery plan, which was unveiled in August 2014, aims to bring MAS back to profitability within three years of delisting, and includes a comprehensive overhaul of the airline by the end of 2017.

Azman said the milestones so far, by and large, have been met and "on schedule."

"We want to revive our national carrier but at the same time it's the taxpayer's money, so there has to be accountability."

He said it was still too early to determine if MAS will achieve profitability by 2017.

"We committed to quarterly updates because MAS is of national interest. The last update was made in November and there's still a long way to go. Many more things can still happen.

"But its been on schedule and on budget. Are we confident? We've done everything we believe that we possibly can."

Since the initiation of the recovery plan in 2014, Azman said the airline underwent staff rationalisation, renegotiated contracts and leases.

"These are things that companies do within three years and we did it within 12 to 15 months.

"The next 12 to 15 months is a period where they have to demonstrate continuous improvements. Safety is a very high priority," he said.

The quarterly updates so far were primarily spearheaded by Khazanah. Moving forward, however, Azman said MAS would be more active with the updates.

"The first four quarterly reports were done by us. But as MAS and Christoph (Mueller, MAS chief executive officer) become more embedded, they've taken over as per the last quarter.

"From here on, the updates will be driven by MAS."

Khazanah delisted Malaysian Airline System Bhd in December 2014 and revealed a turnaround plan involving RM6bil in funding, 6,000 job cuts and less routes. It also transferred all operations, including assets and liabilities, to a new company.

On a separate matter, Azman said a rebranding of MAS was not a priority at this time.

"I was asked this question in 2014. I didn't think it was a priority then, I don't think it's a priority now. It's more important to get the cost base, the operations and the fundamentals right, first.

"Because I feel that if we rebrand, and those basics are not in place, it would be hollow."

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