MH370: MAS to hold own press briefings to focus on families' well-being

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia Airlines will hold its own separate press briefings on MH370 to focus on the interest and well-being of the families and loved ones of the 239 passengers and crew.


Up until Tuesday, MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya was a fixture at the press briefings from day one but he was conspicuously absent in yesterday's session. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein explained that the airline would now have its own briefings from today.

A spokesman explained this was the reason why MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof had a press conference on Tuesday, which was to signal to the public and media that it would now deal with very specific issues related to the national air carrier but not the ongoing investigations to find the plane.

"Our role is very clear and we were never part of the investigation team as we are an affected party. For MAS, our story is about the care of the next of kin of those on board. It is really about the people," said the spokesman.

He said the airline decided on this focus after the extreme reaction from the families in China to the announcement that flight MH370 ended in the remote southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia.

"That reaction was the clearest indication to us that the situation, which had been developing for many days, was getting out of hand," he added.

He said MAS understood the emotional roller coaster the families were on, and the despair and anger they felt upon hearing there was no more hope for survivors based on new analysis of satellite information.

He acknowledged that this crisis which "shook us and the nation", would further impact MAS' financial burden, but said the management had a "moral obligation" to care for the family members.

"If debris from MH370 is found, we will fly the family members to the nearest location," he said.

On the issue of lawsuits and insurance claims, he said the flight, like all MAS flights, had been insured, including against war and terrorism.

The spokesman also said the disappearance of MH370 had impacted the company in a very personal way because it lost 13 staff.

He shared that apart from the 12-man crew, there was a 13th MAS employee on board: a Chinese national based in Beijing who was due to retire in two months.

"He was taking his first ever annual privilege travel with his wife. They came to Malaysia and were going home on MH370," he said, adding that the couple had a son who was studying at Chengdu University.

Within MAS, the tragedy had also brought people of different faiths and cultures together to show support and love for each other.

"We see among our staff a new culture, with people hugging each other, giving warm handshakes," said the spokesman.