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MAS plan eyes Aussie cuts as crew resignations soar

August 28, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Malaysia Airlines should consider cutting back flights to Australia as part of its soon-to-be-announced revival plan, a senior Asian aviation analyst has advised.

Competition from Asian long-haul cut-price carriers, such as AirAsia X, is fierce on the route to Australia and margins are slim.

Malaysia Airlines is likely to reduce staff numbers by a quarter, or about 5000 people. Nearly 200 cabin crew have resigned since the airline was hit by two lethal tragedies this year, losing two B777-200s with everyone aboard. Some crew reportedly cited fears for their safety in choosing to quit, according to commentary by Channel 9 News.

Before this year MAS had a good safety record. It has always been regarded as a safe and efficient airline on which to fly. Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott said his own daughters had flown from Europe to Australia on MH17, some months before that same flight was shot down over Ukraine.

Apart from the looming staff cuts, MAS is considering withdrawal of services to some cities in China and Europe as a part of a revival plan that may be announced later this week, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Other sources have mentioned Frankfurt.

The paper spoke to Mohshin Aziz, aviation analyst at Maybank Kom Eng Securities, who made the suggestion of Australia route cuts.

Mohsin added that MAS was currently unable to compete effectively on the Dubai route, which is dominated by Emirates Airline. Bookings to China have been badly affected by the loss of MH370, as most passengers were Chinese.

For this year’s first quarter, MAS posted a net loss of 443 million ringgit ($A148.23 million) blaming MH370’s impact on bookings.

Citing “people familiar with the proposals” the Wall Street Journal says Malaysia’s state investor Khazanah Nasional, which is seeking to take MAS private, has prepared a plan to revive the airline. Khazanah currently owns about 70% of the airline’s parent firm, Malaysian Airline System.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has conceded that major restructuring will be necessary.

The airline said earlier this week that 186 crew had quit in the first seven months of this year, with many blaming family pressure prompted by the tragedies.

“Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels,” MAS said in an issued statement.

Abdul Malek Ariff, secretary-general of the employees union, told the Edge Financial daily that some “now are afraid to fly” and crew shortages were forcing staff to work up to 12 hours a day. The union represents about 8000 of Malaysia Airlines’ 19,500-strong workforce.

A report in News Ltd described MAS flights out of Australia as “like flying ghost towns deserted by frightened travellers and cabin crew”.

A photo doing the rounds on social media shows a remarkably empty MAS flight out of Australia to Asia earlier this month.

Twitter image by Ricardo Goncalves of recent MAS flight from Australia













Written by Peter Needham




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