KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — A group of businessmen led by former AirAsia Group Bhd chairman Datuk Pahamin Rajab is understood to have met Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday to discuss taking over ailing national carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad.
According to the New Straits Times, the purported meeting was aimed at gaining the prime minister’s consent for them to begin due diligence on the proposed takeover of Malaysia Airlines.
Pahamin was the director-general of the Road Transport Department at the Transport Ministry from 1974 to 1998. He was also the secretary-general of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry from 1998 to 2001.
He was appointed as non-executive chairman of low-cost carrier AirAsia on December 14, 2001, and retired on June 3, 2008.
The NST report comes just a day after veteran newsman Datuk A. Kadir Jasin claimed that Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s board has rejected a bid to shut down Malaysia Airlines.
In a Facebook post, he pointed out that Khazanah has to date attempted four turnaround initiatives without success and at a cost of RM25 billion to the government.
“The government cannot keep pouring money into Malaysia Airlines,” Kadir said.
Last month, Dr Mahathir said the government would consider selling the national carrier “if there is a good offer”.
Khazanah delisted the airline in 2014 as part of a revival bid but the move did not stem its chronic losses that remain until today.
Malaysia Airlines 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.
A survey released earlier this year in March by YouGov Plan & Track, an international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm headquartered in the UK, revealed that the Malaysia Airlines brand is still seen in a positive light by locals amid debate over its potential sale or closure.