Can Malaysia Airlines return to its golden days?

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What will happen to existing MAS workers and their unions?

What needs to be eliminated from Malaysia Airlines are the leakages and long-term contracts that victimise Malaysia Airlines itself, asserts Farha Yusof.

Christoph Mueller’s appointment as chief executive of Malaysia Airlines several months ago raised many eyebrows and criticism from the public including the Umno youth movement.

But others welcomed his leadership of Malaysia Airlines after he outlined the steps that would be taken in efforts to save Malaysia Airlines.

Last week, the newspapers were filled with news of an impending massive layoff of existing Malaysia Airlines personnel and the factors leading to the airline’s bad situation today – among them, excessive overtime claims and staff allowances.

On the surface, this move appears timely. But probing deeper, are the measures taken conclusive and holistic enough? Do they tackle the root cause of what’s plaguing Malaysia Airlines?

It has often been said that the terms of the catering contract and poor management have contributed to the airlines’ woes. Shortcomings that led to this poor state of affairs in Malaysia Airlines cannot be blamed solely on the MH17 and MH370 incidents. They actually began during Tajuddin Ramli’s leadership.

Subsequent chief executive officers faced a tough mission to retore Malaysia Airlines to its glory days last seen under the leadership of Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman. None of them has been been fully successful in manoeuvring Malaysia Airlines back to its best condition.

The retrenchment of the Malaysia Airlines workforce victimises our very own people when in fact they do not enjoy hefty pay cheques unlike the executives at the higher levels. Not only that, they are in no way privy to the decision making process or the formulation of strategy in the Malaysia Airlines management. Thus, they are not the cause of Malaysia Airlines state of affairs today.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) has substantive reasons for bringing up this issue to the public. Many feel the path to save Malaysia Airlines must be conclusive, holistic and fair. There should not be double standards; instead the decisions and strategy must be impartial and in the best interest of Malaysia Airlines and not of any individual.

Crucially, what needs to be eliminated from Malaysia Airlines are the leakages and long-term contracts that victimise Malaysia Airlines itself.

The issue of whether it is a citizen or a foreigner in charge of the airlines is irrelevant to the task of saving Malaysia Airlines.

A renowned airlines such as Malaysia Airlines must be led by a no-nonsense person who can stand firm in ensuring a clean and efficient adminstration. He or she is not leading any ordinary company: Malaysia Airlines is the pride of the Malaysian people, and many are hoping that the airlines will return to its golden days.

Farha Yusof, who is currently pursuing his tertiary education, is involved in social activism in the Klang Valley. 

Farha participated in a recent Aliran Young Writers Workshop on Federalism and Decentralisation, supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. “The workshop has taught me how to express the concerns of the public and students through better and more effective writing,” he says.

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