Local, foreign firms interested in buying MAS: Mahathir

Malaysia has been studying options for the financially troubled national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd.
Malaysia has been studying options for the financially troubled national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has received interest from some local and foreign companies to buy national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.

Malaysia was still studying options for the financially troubled flagship carrier, he told reporters.

"There are certain parties who are interested to buy (the airline), so we don't reject (the possibility of selling it)," he said, without disclosing the names of the companies.

The government will consider whether to change the airline's management, downsize or expand it, Tun Dr Mahathir said. "Although we hired foreign management, MAS still faced losses. Therefore, one of the options is to sell," he said.

The airline has had two foreign chief executive officers leave before the end of their contracts since it was taken private by sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional in 2014.

"I love MAS. I want MAS to be a national airline, but it looks like we cannot afford it," Dr Mahathir added.

Last week, Dr Mahathir said the government was considering whether to shut, sell or refinance the airline, and that a decision would be made soon.

 
 

The airline has been trying to transform its operations and return to profitability by this year as it recovers from two disasters in 2014, when Flight MH370 disappeared in what remains a mystery and Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Khazanah Nasional said earlier this month that the government needed to decide on its investment in, and level of support for, the struggling airline.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Local, foreign firms interested in buying MAS: Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe