Almost 200 Malaysia Airlines (MAS) crew members have resigned notably after the double airline tragedies involving MH17 and MH370.
Malaysia Airlines System Employees Union (Maseu) secretary-general Abdul Malek Ariff said they were down to only about 3,000 cabin crew members currently.
“Some are now afraid to fly. There is nothing we can do about this. They have developed some kind of fear and we hope that over time, they will be back to normal,” he said.
Malek said they were understaffed and many work up to 12 hours daily– eight hours compulsory and four hours overtime.
“We don’t have a choice. Recruitment for new staff has been very slow and we have to depend on our existing crew to keep flying.
“This is a very difficult time. I mean, losing one aircraft is bad enough, but losing two over such a short period was simply too much to handle, especially for our female crew,” he said.
He said many of the crew members have opted for early retirement which is an alternative offered under the Collective Agreement.
“However, due to the acute shortage of crew members, the management has rejected such applications.
“At present, there is nothing much we can do. We are working hard to rebuild confidence and hope that we can encourage the entry of more new staff,” he added.
In a statement to The Edge Financial Daily, Malaysia Airlines System Bhd said that the total number of resignations from January until July this year was 186 and not 500 as some have alleged.
“Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations, but the number has now decreased to routinely expected levels.
“Many cited family pressure as the reason for their resignation due to the double tragedies. At present the resignation rate at MAS is less than 5% which is way below the industry norm,” it said.
Apart from treatment available at its medical centres, MAS said it has also engaged Mercy Malaysia to provide emotional support to all its crew members since the MH370 tragedy.
“MAS has also organised special prayers as spiritual support for staff in facing this difficult period. Also, all cabin crew work schedules are planned within the confines of the regulations and the legal flight time limitations.”
A senior cabin crew member told The Edge Financial Daily that following the two flight tragedies, several cabin crew members were plagued with recurring nightmares, with some having sought the help of psychiatrists to cope.
“Apart from the pressure of having to deal with the loss of loved ones and colleagues, we also have to answer all kinds of questions from passengers, many of whom are insensitive to what we are going through,” he said.
He said crew members want the public to know the kind of distress they were going through and appeal to them to be more patient and understanding. – The Edge Financial Daily, August 25, 2014.