PETALING JAYA - Malaysia Airlines has issued an impassioned appeal for support on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the tragic disappearance of Flight MH370.
MAS group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that despite the national carrier's best efforts, it "did not do very well" to manage the rapid erosion of its reputation after the incident on March 8 last year which was followed by the downing of MH17 less than four months later.
Noting that goodwill, which took many years to build, could sometimes be destroyed by a single incident, Ahmad Jauhari called for support "to retell our story and to reinstate our reputation and pride in everything we do as Malaysians, as Malaysia Airlines and as Malaysia".
"This is so that the new airline which we hope to build with so much optimism in the near future will be one which we will all continue to be proud of," said Ahmad Jauhari in a statement yesterday.
Ahmad Jauhari did not refer directly to criticisms over its handling of certain aspects of the post MH370 tragedy, including in communicating with the families and next of kin of the passengers and crew, but conceded that MAS could have done better.
"Admittedly, despite our best efforts, we did not do very well to manage the rapid erosion of our reputation. Not at airline, not at country level."
He noted that in less that six months, between the disappearance of MH370 and the downing of MH17 on July 17 last year, 537 people lost their lives, including 27 MAS crew members due to unprecedented events in aviation history.
Ahmad Jauhari said that in one swoop, Malaysia and MAS became the target of market scrutiny and commentary whereby the airline's integrity was questioned.
The "continuous tirade" caused not only the loss of revenue, but vanquished the many years of investments made by generations of Malaysians in the building of MAS as a national icon.
"Yet, despite the many challenges, the people of MAS - our pilots, cabin crew, engineers and all employees - rallied together in unity to enhance the spirit of volunteerism, duty and service.
"If there was any light at the end of the dark tunnel last year, it was this demonstration of service and fortitude which I saw across the organisation as we faced the criticism and sometimes unkindness of the outside world."
As a result of the damage in reputation and the subsequent loss of business, MAS was fully acquired by state investment firm Khazanah Nasional Bhd and is being restructured to return it to profitability.