Malaysia Airlines revival plan ready 'within a year'

AFP

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Malaysia Airlines revival plan ready 'within a year'

The state fund that controls Malaysia Airlines said Tuesday it will announce a plan within six to 12 months to revive the carrier, which is reeling from years of financial losses and the disappearance of flight MH370.

Azman Mokhtar, head of state investment firm Khazanah Nasional, said "all options are being reviewed" by the flag carrier's majority shareholder, including a possible sale of the airline.

Azman indicated Malaysia Airlines (MAS) had about enough cash to continue operating for a year, giving Khazanah some "headroom", but he added a long-term solution was needed.

"Obviously over the medium and longer term, this has to be solved on a sustainable basis," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

"As a national carrier, clearly MAS plays a very important role in terms of economic development of the country, but at the same time we, as the custodian of taxpayers' money, have to balance that role very carefully."

Last month MAS said the mysterious March 8 disappearance of MH370 had a "dramatic impact" on first-quarter earnings.

Cancelled bookings helped push the company to a loss of 443 million ringgit ($137 million), its fifth straight quarter in the red and the worst since the last three months of 2011.

Even before MH370, it had lost $1.3 billion over the previous three years.

The carrier has launched a series of turnaround plans and austerity campaigns over the years but has continued to struggle amid intense industry competition from more nimble rivals.

Analysts have said MAS has only remained aloft thanks to injections of taxpayer funds.

More than three months after it vanished, no trace of MH370 has been found despite an extensive search in the southern Indian Ocean where it is believed to have come down.

Families of MH370 passengers have accused Malaysia's government and the airline of botching the response to the plane's disappearance and withholding information, charges that are denied.

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