PETALING JAYA - Malaysia Airlines has debunked a report by an Australian news portal that described one of its planes as nearly empty, saying that the London-KL flight was actually over 90 per cent full.
The portal - news.com.au - had alleged that the airline was "burning through its cash reserves" to stay afloat and used pictures in social media by passengers showing empty seats and check-in lines.
One photograph used by the portal was by MasterChef UK 2014 winner Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes, who later defended MAS, saying that Flight MH01 was full and that families with children boarded first.
In an e-mail to The Star, MAS said it appreciated the support given by Chin.
"The MH01 flight carried 464 passengers. MAS is touched by the ongoing support of its loyal guests and it strives to provide world-class service to all its passengers," it said.
Malaysians, who have been on MAS flights after the MH17 incident on July 17, have also come out to defend the airline.
Communications student Carmen Teoh, who took a MAS flight to London, said her flights to and from the British capital were all full.
"The Caucasian lady next to me seemed nervous and even stopped a steward to ask why the flight route seemed to have deviated but it was all okay in the end," said the 23-year-old.
"If we Malaysians do not stand by our national carrier, then who will?" she said.
IT consultant Johari Yusof, 36, said his flight back to Malaysia from London three days ago was about 80 per cent full.
"When there was turbulence, some could afford to laugh. There were also more foreign passengers than Malaysians," he said.
Senior manager Elly Yusof, 40, intentionally chose MAS for all her destinations to support the airline after the MH370 incident and will be flying MAS to Cambodia this Sunday.
"Rather than 'abandoning' or bad-mouthing our national airline in its time of difficulty, we should try to support it instead," she said.
Daniel Wa, 26, who recently flew to Cambodia via MAS, said he felt that the flight attendants were even more caring towards passengers after the MH17 incident.
"They were more polite and explained to the passengers whenever there was turbulence to assure us that we were safe," he said.
Law student Lisa J. Ariffin said those afraid to fly on MAS were "missing out on the experience" as the cabin crew were the friendliest she had ever encountered.
Khazanah Nasional will announce today its restructuring plan for MAS.