KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) – Malaysian Airlines System Bhd (MAS) shares fell sharply on Friday after one of its planes was downed over Ukraine, putting more pressure on a carrier still reeling from the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March.
The airlines’ Flight MH17, bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, was downed over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The crash comes just months after Flight MH370 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Shares of MAS, the most heavily traded stock in Malaysia stock market on Friday, fell to a one-month low of 18.8 sen (7.34 Singapore cents) in morning trade, but then pared losses to 20.5 sen, down 11.1 per cent from Thursday’s close.
MAS did not immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment.
Sentiment was already negative, and this just makes it worse," said an analyst with AmResearch. "There was a lot of anti-Malaysia sentiment in China after MH370. We have to see if this situation will have the same effect and lead to a heavy sell-down," he said.
Hit by slumping ticket sales after the disappearance of MH370, MAS turned in its worst quarterly performance in two years in January-March.
Malaysian state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd plans to take MAS private as the first step in a major restructuring of the airline, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters earlier this month.
"I’m convinced that there will be support from the management to restore some kind of credibility to the airline," said Bertrand Grabowski, DVB Bank's managing director in charge of aviation.
Markets in the region were also affected.
Malaysia's KLCI dropped 0.5 per cent while Singapore’s Straits Times Index was little changed, although it was down 0.3 per cent in mid-morning trading.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.3 per cent, but the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent.
Tokyo stocks closed 1.01 per cent lower, with shares of major Japanese carriers falling.
Additional reporting from AFP.