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Govt looking into options to offload MAS

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 20/3/2019 Syed Umar Ariff and Teh Athira Yusof
Mahathir Mohamad wearing a suit and tie: "I love MAS. I want it to be a (great) national carrier. But it seems that we cannot sustain it," Dr Mahathir said in a press conference at Parliament Lobby, here, today.-Pix By Yahya Zain © Provided by Media Prima "I love MAS. I want it to be a (great) national carrier. But it seems that we cannot sustain it," Dr Mahathir said in a press conference at Parliament Lobby, here, today.-Pix By Yahya Zain

KUALA LUMPUR: Several parties had expressed interest in purchasing Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAS), following the ailing state of the national carrier.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, however, stressed that the government was still looking into the viability of selling off the company as one of the ways to save it from mounting losses.

"Certain parties have expressed their wish to buy MAS. We are not rejecting them.

"(But) we want to study on whether we need to sell it or not. (We are) also aware that the company, despite hiring a manager from outside (not promoted internally), the company is still experiencing losses.

"So one of the ways (to resolve the problem) is by selling it (company) off."

"I love MAS. I want it to be a (great) national carrier. But it seems that we cannot sustain it," Dr Mahathir said in a press conference at Parliament Lobby, here, today.

To a question, Dr Mahathir said he would consider opinion from former MAS management teams on whether to replace, expand or trim down the current management or operations at the national carrier.

"We also have a number of aircraft that are not being fully utilised. This is causing losses as well."

Dr Mahathir also said the government had provided financial aid to keep MAS afloat but it had in turn reduced operations significantly.

"There are several ranks of workers. The ones at the lower level are interested to give the best possible services. But (current) strategies are not yielding so much profit.

"For instance, the government had injected RM6 billion to help MAS. But then MAS had in turn terminated the employment of 6,000 people.

"As their services were terminated, MAS did not fly as much. It had reduced many flight operations. So it means that the reduction of staff members and operations bears no difference.

"If you reduce staff members but maintain your original operations, only then you can create savings. But if you reduce both, you no longer have the advantage."

It was reported that half of Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s RM7.3 billion impairments registered last year was in sustaining MAS.

The country’s sovereign wealth fund recorded a pre-tax loss of RM6.3 billion last year, bogged down by higher impairments, lower dividend income and fewer divestments.

Dr Mahathir had said that Khazanah may have to drop some underperforming companies to save it from incurring more losses.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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