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Saturday, July 19, 2014
Can Malaysia Airlines survive MH17 disaster?
July 19, 2014
No airline has gone through two tragedies of this magnitude in a span of four months.
Malaysia was still reeling from the impact of flight MH370′s March
disappearance when news of MH17′s crash in Ukraine broke on Thursday.
Now many question whether the carrier can survive a second disaster in
such a short time.
“It is a tragedy with no comparison. In the history of aviation, no
airline has gone through two tragedies of this magnitude in a span of
four months,” said Mohsin Aziz, an aviation analyst at Maybank.
“Even before the second incident, I have been very sceptical over the
company’s ability to survive beyond the second half of 2015. They are
making huge losses … This is probably going to hasten that.
“It doesn’t matter who is at fault. The perception to the customer is
‘I don’t want to fly Malaysia Airlines any more’, and to battle that is
The Guardian reports shares in the carrier fell sharply on Friday,
down 11% by the midday break in trading in Kuala Lumpur, as already
negative investor sentiment deepened. In all, it has dropped by 35% this
Questions were also raised about the airline’s choice of route, after
it emerged that some other carriers had avoided the area for months –
though many companies were flying in the same area, rerouting only after
The carrier, and the Malaysian government, came under heavy criticism
for its handling of MH370′s disappearance – particularly in China,
which lost more than 150 nationals in that disaster.
Prior to MH370′s disappearance, Malaysia Airlines was making losses
but seemed to be improving, said Mohsin; it was reducing operating costs
and selling more tickets. But while its flights were increasingly full,
it had not managed to bump up its fares.
Now the airline’s previously strong safety record has effectively
been erased for passengers by two such losses. According to the
International Air Transport Association, there was an average of 517
deaths annually in commercial aviation incidents between 2009 and 2013.
Now a single airline appears to have surpassed that death toll in a
“People are only willing to fly with Malaysia Airlines if the ticket price is really, really cheap,” said Mohsin.
The airline has also faced additional costs, such as supporting the
families of victims and increasing its spending on marketing.
Reuters reported earlier this month that Malaysian state investor
Khazanah Nasional Bhd planned to take MAS private as the first step
towards restructuring the company, citing two unnamed sources.
“For it to completely disappear would be too much of a loss of pride
for Malaysia,” said the Maybank analyst. “It is more realistic or
probable for the government to intervene directly or via Khazanah.” -