Malaysia

Tony Fernandes expresses shock over MAS’s losses, says aviation industry needs a review

Putrajaya needs to review aviation policies as it can't afford to spend taxpayers' money on loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) which bled RM1.2 billion last financial year, said Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (pic).

The founder of AirAsia added that he was “shocked” at the amount of losses suffered by MAS.

“The whole aviation industry needs a relook,” he told The Malaysian Insider by phone today.

Saying that the industry’s policies and airline management need to shape up, Fernandes said that MAS and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) have to start churning profits to avoid burdening taxpayers.

“My point is that if you’re running a private company, could you afford to cut 16% of your costs and still lose RM1 billion?” he asked.

“It’s only because there’s taxpayers' money that one can afford to do that. And this isn’t solving the issue,” he added.

Yesterday, MAS had reported its fourth straight quarterly loss for 2013 and chalked up RM1.17 billion in losses for the year – three times as much as in 2012.

The state-owned carrier has been implementing cost-cutting measures to cut its expenses such as axing several routes and introducing lower ticket fares to increase its load.

However, the airline is also awaiting government approval to purchase 100 Airbus and Boeing passenger aircraft that would amount to several billion ringgit.

A Reuters report said that the airline’s decision to spend on newer aircraft is to boost profitability and retire its older, less fuel-efficient aircraft.

Fernandes, meanwhile, criticised MAS and MAHB’s continued spending and losses.

“It’s supposed to be profit-making. This just hurts decent players in the business when they’re spending like there’s no tomorrow,” said Fernandes.

According to MAS’s website, the carrier has 88 aircraft in its fleet, including Airbus A330s and A380s, and Boeing 777-200s and 737s.

The airline’s expenditure also went up by 10% last year to RM14.9 billion year-on-year due to high fuel prices.

MAS posted its highest ever loss in history when it recorded RM2.52 billion nett loss in 2011. The company , however, managed to narrow its losses to RM433 million in 2012. – February 19, 2014.

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