Malaysia Airlines emergency landing: High-profile coverage of common incident is only because of further drama for embattled airline

Incident follows unrelated losses of flights MH370 and MH17 last year

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The Independent Travel

A Malaysia Airlines jet from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur made an emergency landing at the Australian airport after a false alarm about an engine fire. The Airbus A330 jet, with 300 passengers on board, circled to dump fuel before landing safely. No emergency evacuation took place, and no fault was found. The flight continued with a delay of four hours.

The publicity the event received, including coverage on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, is symptomatic of a prevailing sensitivity to any kind of incident involving Malaysia Airlines. It follows the unrelated losses of flights MH370 and MH17 last year, The first disappeared on 8 March when flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew. The second was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 on board.

When Christoph Mueller, the new chief executive, took over last month, and has said that the airline is “technically bankrupt”. He plans to shrink the workforce from 20,000 to 14,000, and to run Malaysia Airlines as a “start up,” unencumbered by traditional pay rates and working arrangements.

 

Even before the unexplained disappearance of the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight and the shooting down over Ukraine of the plane from Amsterdam, the carrier faced severe problems. Malaysia Airlines was up against intense low-cost competition on its regional network, and the loss of business is the face of the fast and hungry expansion by the Gulf-based airlines.

There is no expectation that the airline will close down, and indeed Herr Mueller has said that anyone buying a Malaysia Airlines ticket can do so confident in the knowledge that it will operate normally and safely.

A wide-ranging announcement on the airline’s future is expected early in September,  which could include a change of name to move on from a brand some regard as toxic.

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