KUALA LUMPUR: The government is still looking at solutions for troubled Malaysia Airlines, which is majority-owned by Khazanah Nasional, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Sep 17).
“It’s not easy … we have done a lot. The previous government gave them RM6 billion (US$1.4 billion) and sacked 6,000 people, and in addition, reduced the number of flights.
“So, if you reduce the personnel and the number of flights, the ratio between personnel and the activities doesn’t change,” Dr Mahathir said.
READ: Khazanah injects US$72 million in Malaysia Airlines as it considers offers
READ: Putrajaya has received 4 offers to take over Malaysia Airlines: PM Mahathir
Dr Mahathir noted that there has been talk of some companies taking a stake in the national carrier. However, he said there were also some people who were sentimental and wanted to see the company owned entirely by Malaysians.
“But, there is no Malaysian investor strong enough to take it up,” the prime minister explained.
When asked what was the government’s deadline to decide on the fate of carrier and if it would adopt Proton Holdings’ strategy of selling a stake to China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, he reiterated it was not easy.
“As you know, Malaysia Airlines has undergone many changes, including changes in the management and sacking of 6,000 workers … and yet the losses remained high,” Dr Mahathir said.
The prime minister also noted that when the national airline was formed, there were no low-cost carriers unlike now. This, he said, affected not only Malaysia Airlines, but many others.
The fate of Malaysia’s national carrier has been up in the air. In March, Dr Mahathir said the government was considering whether to shut, sell or refinance the carrier.
In June, he said the government would like to sell Malaysia Airlines but its identity as the national carrier must be retained.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Japan Airlines might acquire a stake in Malaysia Airlines.