Najib Razak Govt. To Nationalise Malaysia Airlines

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Beleaguered Malaysia Airlines is being taken private by the Malay government. The misfortune-plagued airline has seen bookings plunge as it has lost two aircraft and seen 537 passengers perish this year, so the state has decided to step in to acquire and restructure the distressed firm.

Malaysia’s state investment firm (Khazanah Nasional Bhd), which owns almost 70% of Malaysian Airline System Bhd., announced a $430 million plan to take the concern private. Taking Malaysia Airlines private is the first step in a restructuring to return the company to profitability.

Losing money even before downed planes

Malaysia Airlines has been losing money for the last three years. The Malay government has had to pony up $1.56 billion over the last decade just to keep the airline afloat. Analysts say the airline has significant structural issues to be addressed in the revamp, including way too many employees and continuing to fly nonprofitable routes for years.

Two lost Malaysia Airlines planes in six months

The fact that two Malaysia Airlines planes were lost this year has further damaged the already reeling company. MH Flight 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean back in March, and MH Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July.

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The fate of MH Flight 370 and its almost 300 passengers that just disappeared over the Indian Ocean still remains unknown, although the Australian government just this week awarded a contract to resume the search for the missing airliner. MH Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine a few weeks ago, presumably accidentally by pro-Russian rebels who thought it was a Ukrainian government aircraft. An investigation is ongoing.

$430 million plan to take the airline private

Khazanah Nasional Bhd. said that it has nearly completed its restructuring proposal for the airline, and will announce further details by the end of the month.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke Friday morning, saying that the restructuring  “will involve painful steps and sacrifices from all parties,” but the process will be “carried out professionally, with proper principles of fairness, transparency and compassion.”

“We believe our national carrier must be renewed. This means wholesale change, to deliver a wholly different outcome,” Najib elaborated. “Only through a complete overhaul of the company can we deliver a genuinely strong and sustainable national carrier. Piecemeal changes will not work.”

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