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Malaysia Airlines criticised for 'macabre' My Ultimate Bucket List competition after MH370 and MH17 disasters

The company has changed the name of the contest for Australian passengers

Malaysia Airlines has made a misguided attempt to lure back customers with an “Ultimate Bucket List” competition.

The tragedy-struck company is cutting hundreds of jobs and flights after the loss of MH17 and MH370 in disasters that killed 537 passengers and 29 staff.

In an apparent attempt to encourage flyers in Australia and New Zealand, it launched a competition on Monday called “My Ultimate Bucket List”, offering free tickets to Malaysia.

Time magazine reported that the “macabre” contest asked customers to describe: “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?”

As news of the campaign spread on trade news websites, the name quickly came under fire from people pointing out that a bucket list is what you aim to do before dying – hardly appropriate for an airline that saw two of the world’s most deadly air disasters in the space of four months.

Links to the competition have since been removed and people are being asked to describe destinations and activities on their “to-do” list instead.

The beleaguered company announced last week that it 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.

The airline’s market value has plunged by 40 per cent during the past nine months, with losses in the last quarter widening to 307 million ringgit (£59 million) from 1,176 million ringgit the year before, although it was an improvement on the first quarter of the financial year.