Ipoh-born Masterchef winner ‘sad’ her photo used to misrepresent full MAS flights as empty

A screenshot of Masterchef UK 2014 winner Ping Coombes's Instagram account, showing her seated on a MAS flight with her family.
A screenshot of Masterchef UK 2014 winner Ping Coombes's Instagram account, showing her seated on a MAS flight with her family.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Masterchef UK 2014 winner Ping Coombes who is visiting her hometown Ipoh has slammed the media for misrepresenting a picture she posted on her Twitter and Instagram account for suggesting that Malaysia Airlines was flying almost empty planes following the double disasters of MH370 and MH17.

She tweeted earlier today that the flight she was on was in fact full.

“Woke up to this picture in the media! For anyone who has been on a plane knows, family with children get boarded first, the flight was not empty, it was in fact full.

“It’s really sad that a thank you on a kind upgrade that I was offered is being used to attack an airline which has had such a difficult time. We should be offering support and compassion,” she posted on her Twitter and Instagram accounts.

A number of media outlets have posted her picture as well as that of a number of other passengers to suggest MAS business had been hit so badly by the disasters that it was flying with rows of empty seats.

Ping’s explanation suggests that some of the pictures may have been taken while passengers were still boarding flights.

Pictures of empty rows of seats on MAS flights have been making the rounds over social media and media websites like Mashable.

The past few days have seen British tabloids like the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror also publishing the pictures, including the one posted by Ping.

The beleaguered national flag carrier is already facing a massive restructuring to stem huge losses following the two disasters.

While there have been cancellations and bookings are down, it has not flying almost empty planes.

Deep job losses, route cuts and a change of leadership are expected to feature in a restructuring plan being prepared by Malaysia’s government for announcement as early as tomorrow, when MAS also reports second-quarter results. Likely the last before being delisted, the numbers are expected to show plunging ticket sales and heavy losses even before July’s shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine.

As state fund Khazanah Nasional, the majority owner, prepares to take the company private and inject efficiency into the airline, it must tackle crumbling staff morale and win over the powerful main labour union if turnaround efforts are to succeed.

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