Malaysia Airlines CEO objects to shutting down airline

Malaysia Airlines CEO Captain Izham Ismail at the media preview of the newly refurbished Golden Lounge on March 22, 2018. – Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
Malaysia Airlines CEO Captain Izham Ismail at the media preview of the newly refurbished Golden Lounge on March 22, 2018. – Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

SEOUL, June 2 — It is not a good idea to shut down Malaysia Airlines, CEO Izham Ismail said, as he called for investors to boost the flagship carrier.

“Shutting down Malaysia Airlines would be a wrong move. This is my personal opinion, not the views of the organisation, the shareholders or its board of directors,” he said here.

Instead, Izham said he welcomed investors to come on board to help with the national carrier’s turnaround.

“I always advocate that moving forward, any organisation or business should have partners. 

“As the CEO, I welcome these synergies, because not only do they invest in the airline, they bring in new culture and could guide Malaysia Airlines in combating the future market,” Izham said.

Izham was speaking to Malaysian press members here during the 75th International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting.

He explained that the idea of selling the airline and having investors were equal in his eyes.

“Can you shut down Malaysia Airlines overnight? It will cost a lot.

“Do we sell hundred per cent of shares to them? Because that’s equivalent to shutting down Malaysia Airlines.

“Are you brave enough to take on the liability of Malaysia Airlines? You’d be so stupid,” he said.

The first-time CEO said he was open to investors as long as the interested organisations can help bring Malaysia Airlines to the next level in the form of funds, knowledge and experiences.

“Malaysia Airlines might not be profitable, but organisations, stakeholders, companies that give services to Malaysia Airlines are profitable.

“That itself is a GDP positive,” he said.

While Malaysia Airlines employs 13,500 staff, Izham said it was important to take into consideration the airlines’ vendors and service providers, bringing the figure up to 400,000 people who would be affected if the airline were to shut down.

Moving forward, the airline will focus on its long-term business plan, currently awaiting approval from the board members of the airline’s sole shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Izham said the sovereign wealth fund will announce its decision at month-end or July.

“Without revealing too much, one of the plans encompasses strengthening our premium services.

“We need to renew and restructure our Asean business proposition,” he said.

In March, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government was considering shutting down Malaysia Airlines among other options, including selling or refinancing the loss-making national airline.

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