Mahathir says government considering future of Malaysia Airlines

Airline was supposed to return to profitability in 2019 under turnaround plan devised by state investment fund.

    Malaysia Airlines planes on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]
    Malaysia Airlines planes on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport [File: Edgar Su/Reuters]

    The Malaysian government is considering whether to shut, sell or refinance national carrier Malaysia Airlines, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters on Tuesday.

    The government was studying options for the national carrier, and a decision should be made "soon", Mahathir said, when asked about analysts' suggestions that the airline should be shut down or spun off.

    "It is a very serious matter to shut down the airline," Mahathir told a news conference at parliament.

    "We will nevertheless be studying and investigating as to whether we should shut it down or we should sell it off or we should refinance it. All these things are open for the government to decide."

    The airline has been trying to transform its operations and return to profitability by this year as it recovers from twin disasters in 2014, when flight MH370 disappeared in March and flight MH17 was shot down in July as it flew over eastern Ukraine.

    Sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, which took over the airline that same year, said the government needed to decide on its investment in, and level of support for, the struggling airline.

    Khazanah also said it was waiting for the airline to present a review of its business strategy. 

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency