Malaysia Airlines to sack a quarter of staff and undergo biggest restructuring in its history after plane tragedies

Quarter of staff and routes to Europe and China set to be slashed after four disastrous months marked by tragedy

Malaysia Airlines is set to undergo the most radical restructuring in its history, with a quarter of its staff axed and routes to Europe and China slashed as the tragedy-struck carrier fights for its survival.

The airline has been flying near-empty planes after four disastrous months  – a time when the disappearance of flight MH370, which went missing en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in March, was followed by flight MH17 being shot down over Ukraine in July. A total of 537 passengers and 29 Malaysia Airlines staff lost their lives in the two tragedies.

Now Malaysia’s sovereign-wealth fund, Khazanah – which is chaired by the country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and is the biggest shareholder in the carrier – has won backing for a restructuring plan that will also see the airline delist from the stock market  and be nationalised.

Malaysia Airlines will sack about a quarter of its 19,500 staff as it focuses on core Asian routes and retains only some of its existing long-haul schedule to help feed traffic.

Instead the carrier – which may also change its name – is expected to rely more heavily on its Oneworld alliance partners, which include British Airways, to bring in flyers from Europe.

 

Malaysia Airlines currently flies from Heathrow, as well as Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Insiders said they expect Frankfurt and other routes to China to be axed.

The MH17 and MH370 tragedies have not only hit demand for seats on the airline: almost 200 cabin crew have resigned this year, with many citing “family pressure” or fear of flying.

Read more: Search area for missing MH370 changed

The airline’s market value has plunged by 40 per cent during the past nine months.  In the last quarter, Malaysia Airlines’ losses widened to 307 million ringgit (£59m) from 1,176 million ringgit the year before, although it was an improvement on the 443 million ringgit loss posted in the first quarter.

Even before this year’s disasters, however, the company has been under financial pressure. The last time it made an annual profit was in 2010.

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