SUBANG JAYA, March 12 — The government must coldly evaluate the justifications for continuing with Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) given its chronic losses, said former Khazanah Nasional managing director Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim.

Saying public funds could be better used elsewhere, the G25 member also added that the painful option of shutting down the national carrier should not be taken off the table.

“MAS has been bailed out not just once, but two, three times before and it was never successful after each bailout… this shows that it is not easy (for it) to become profitable.

“I don’t want to comment on it, but there are a lot of people saying that we may have to re-examine whether we need a national airline and we should look into it, whether we really need it,” he told reporters when met after speaking at the “Malaysian Strategic Financial Outlook Forum”, here, today.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government is weighing the continued viability of MAB and will seek solutions to its continued financial problems. 

These include whether to “shut it down, sell it off, or refinance it”.

Aviation analysts have said the carrier’s failure to meet its three-year target for profitability made it unsustainable.

The airline was privatised in 2014 as part of a revival bid but continued its trend of heavy losses.

The national carrier suffered a massive blow to its image after Flight MH370 disappeared five years ago with 239 people on board.

In July the same year, it lost another plane, MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine.