MAS would be buoyant today if it stuck to my transformation plan, says Idris Jala

The Malaysia Airlines logo is seen at the main entrance at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang April 21, 2014. Former MAS CEO Tan Sri Idris Jala believes the carrier may survive if it follows the Business Transformation Plan 2 (BTP2). — Reuters pic
The Malaysia Airlines logo is seen at the main entrance at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang April 21, 2014. Former MAS CEO Tan Sri Idris Jala believes the carrier may survive if it follows the Business Transformation Plan 2 (BTP2). — Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA, Aug 17 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Idris Jala believes Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has a future — if it gets over the current turbulence.

He says the MAS management should religiously follow the Business Transformation Plan 2 (BTP2), launched during his tenure with the national carrier in 2008.

The BTP2 consists of detailed, step-by-step processes for the airline to stay afloat.

“When I was with MAS, the question was what, we should do for its future.  (In BTP2) I predicted that by 2012, the worst-case scenario was for MAS to lose between RM650 million to RM1 billion or more, and that is what happened.

“If we could transform or did something extraordinary and followed all the steps (listed in BTP2), I predicted in turn that MAS could make an up to RM1.5 billion profit,” Idris said as a panelist at the Emerging Leaders in the 21st Century’s session at the Asia Leadership Conference 2014 here, today.

The one-day conference themed, “Leadership and Innovation in the 21st Century”, was organised by the Sunway Education Group, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, the Centre for Asia Leadership Initiatives and Asia Leadership Trek with the support of the Harvard University Asia Centre.

For the record, the BTP2 initiative was to transform MAS into a five-star value carrier by embracing a clear five-step process, which included maintaining a five-star service, reducing costs, offering competitive pricing and growing the network by introducing new, demand-based routes.

Idris joined MAS as the chief executive officer on Sept 1, 2005 and at a time when the airline had chalked up a loss of RM1.3 billion. But, during his tenure, MAS made at least RM851 million in net profit in just two years.

“When I joined MAS, we only had money to last two and a half months. We did not have money to pay salaries, nor money for fuel.

“Some might remember that we proceeded to sell our headquarters building for RM130 million to give us enough cash to operate for 20 days,” he said in recalling the time MAS rose from its lowest ebb.

Idris left in 2009 to join the Federal Cabinet.

He advised conference participants to ask themselves what difference they could make in their respective areas, to constantly set a high benchmark and tackle it.

“My background was in oil and gas (23 years in Shell). When I joined the aviation industry, I showed them my plan and asked if they believed we could succeed, and if it was worth a try. The answer was, highly unlikely.

“But we achieved what was impossible to others,” he said. — Bernama