MAS and its potential buyer — Hajar Shamsudin

JULY 11 — I refer to the recent development of MAS and proposed 49 per cent stake of MAB by Najah Air Sdn Bhd.

I have been following the recent development of several parties interested to buy controlling stake of the national carrier. Be they Najah Air, Jentayu Danaraksa, an “undisclosed” Qatari links, or even Tan Sri Tony Fernandes himself, the queue to seek an audience with Khazanah just seems to get longer and more mysterious.

Just how sure can we all be that any among the chosen party will be able to deliver just what they are proposing? To run an airline is no small feat, let along running an airline, a great airline but bleeding financially due to with multiple and complex issues.

Of all these interested parties, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes seemingly has the best fit, capabilities to run a mega airline (at least on the surface). But we must not dismiss the fact that low cost and full-service airlines are different altogether!

If I may plead for Khazanah Nasional Berhad, prime minister and Ministry of Transport to seriously consider bringing back Christoph Mueller, a former CEO of Malaysia Airlines. Please recall the very reason Mueller was called in in March 2015. To steer MAS out of its deepest pit of chaos following series of mega losses, and made even worse due to the unfortunate double tragedies of MH 370 and MH 17.

His reputation may evoke unpleasant memories especially for 6,000 former staff of MAS who were laid off. But if we all had been genuinely honest and objective, we would agree that “rightsizing” was indeed unavoidable for MAS.

Mueller very early on has spotted a major internal stumbling block in MAS, its staff unions. Mueller has axed this top resistance factor that unfortunately had been a major tide of opposition with other CEOs who have served MAS. This alone tells that Mueller was different and able to do what his predecessors could not.

He had also cut the number of suppliers, re-strategise routes and created alliances for the Europe market, among other feats. Personally, I think he would have done great wonders had he stayed on for a full term but unfortunately that was not the case.

Granted that several years have passed since then and there had been differences both externally and internally for MAS. But I disagree with selling a large controlling stake of MAS if it results in the very same issues. Perhaps the primary one being having the right person at the helm.

I'm a patriotic Malaysian, a loyal customer and a fan of Malaysia Airlines myself. I believe that Malaysia is not short of capable leaders, with a high quality talent pool.

However, with complex situations, we need to assess the situation objectively, with a bigger frame of mind. With regard to Malaysia Airlines, can we bring the very best in turning around a bleeding national carrier? Even if it means having a non-Malaysian such as Christoph Mueller to steer it back up to its glory days it once had?

Don't we want the best for Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines?

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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