Malaysia-Singapore Airlines: Thoughts

Today we are served the news that Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines will be working together.

Source: Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines sign wide-ranging partnership agreement

Here are some history for those who may not know it.

MSA before it is broken up into Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines with the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1963.

Now that we are up to speed, what used to be one airline is now two. As time passes, Singapore Airlines has become one of the best managed airline and the most profitable in the world while Malaysia Airlines has become a loss-making 1-Billion-per-year airline for the past 5 years. This has been the stark difference between the two airlines in 2019.

Khazanah, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia had been pressed to take over the ailing airlines since August 2014, about 5 years ago. After some rebranding exercises and bringing in foreign turn-around expert CEOs, the airline has nothing to show for apart from the redness of its books. Yet, money is still injected into it. Billions and billions of it without the light at the end of the tunnel. Long story short, the turn-around of the airline has failed and nobody dares to state the obvious: that the time for Malaysia Airlines to wind up is near. There have been too many political baggage and landmines to avoid when real efforts are made to turn it around. Until recently, no one is brave enough to do the right thing for Malaysia Airlines, even the stakeholders!

Above is the old Malaysia Airlines logo. Below is the new rebranded Malaysia Airlines logo.

However, on 30th of October 2019, it is announced that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has entered into a wide-ranging partnership agreement with Singapore Airlines (SA). What a bunch of Bullshit! Effectively, MAS has opened up its domestic routes to SA in return for code-sharing for SA’s international routes. The only problem in this “arrangement” is that it has been trialed and tried before in 1966–1972 without success.

During those 6 years, one of our greatest Malaysian corporate head: Robert Kuok, has seen the worst bickering (as he described) between MAS and SA. What do you think will happen again this time in 2019? Hasn’t MAS learn its lesson? If it was workable, both airlines would have thrived during those times and we would have a nice MAS-SA Airlines now.

However, this time the decision falls with Khazanah which they say acts independently from ministers. It is okay i guess to trust the professional managers from Khazanah. After all, they have managed the country’s finance well. Instead of working it out with its local partners such as Malindo, Airasia, Airasia X, MAS have chosen this option.

I do not know why the government wants to bail out MAS again and again. The ego and the pride that MAS was not managed well, just cannot be let go. What will it take to tell the emperor that he is naked? We, the average Malaysians, have to suffer every time there arepot holes in the road we always travel in while billions are poured into MAS. Where is the justification for that? What about the hundreds of bridges you can build with the money poured into MAS? What about the millions of children who can be educated with the billions poured into MAS that just saved a few thousand airlines staff jobs. How can you sleep at night?

Whoever that made the decision to go with SA should be named so that they are publicly responsible. After all, Khazanah is funded by people’s money. Certain heads must fall if this partnership fails again. That should be the new policy, otherwise just let it die already.

It is not our God-forsaken duty to save something so badly damaged by inefficiency in 2019 when there are so many other important things to deal with. It is only ONE company. Its spirit will live on in Airasia and Malindo. Rest assured, the economic activities will still be guaranteed through them. The Malaysia Brand will be alright. By not letting MAS go, rest assured, the Malaysia Brand will continue to deteriorate.

This attempt to code-share open up our lucrative domestic markets to SA. As a ordinary man, i am happy with more competitions but Airasia and Malindo will definitely suffer. After years of negotiations about routes, with one swing of a “wide-ranging partnership”, it is opened up. MAS should treat its own better.

MAVCOM protected MAS when it should protect both Airasia and Malindo too. When it can avoid to charge, especially passenger service charge (PSC), it should make do without. Singaporeans are transiting through KLIA with Airasia and Malindo, yet MAVCOM want to increase its PSC.

I do hope this attempt at salvaging Malaysia Airlines will be a successful one. We can be hopeful but after years of hoping, someone please knock some sense into the emperor. Sometimes, in life, we have to let go.

Sarawak Blogger

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