After the back–to-back tragedies of MH17 and MH370, Malaysia Airline’s reputation has been tarnished, and the airline is considering a complete brand makeover, from seeking new investors to a name change.
Rebranding may include a different investment structure, a new name, a restructuring of the airlines’ 20,000 staff, and new flight routes for the 50,000 passengers it serves daily. Since the two tragic crashes, the company has lost 35 percent of its value, but the airline’s commercial director is convinced it will “emerge stronger”.
“Our majority shareholder, the Malaysian government, has already started a process of assessing the future shape of our business and that process will now be speeded up as a result of MH17,” the company’s commercial director, Hugh Dunleavy, told the Telegraph.
The airline is controlled by the Malaysian government through its sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which owns a 69.4 percent stake.
Between the bizarre disappearance of Flight 370 in March and the shooting down of Flight 17 over Ukraine , the airline has seen 597 fatalities for the year, more than double the total for all the world’s commercial airlines last year.
Passengers are worried about safety, and investors are worried about profitability. Bloomberg News reported that the company needs at least $629 billion in the next year to stay afloat.
The share price had already been losing altitude before the two incidents in a four-month period. Before flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared, the carrier had seen its stock price fall more than 80 percent in five years. Passenger numbers are down and cash on hand is low.
It has been reported that the Khazanah group had planned to take the airline private, and other sources suggest private investment could come from rival airlines, like Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
“There are several options on the table but all involve creating an airline fit for purpose in what is a new era for us, and other airlines,” Dunleavy said.
In the interview, Dunleavy also called for a more unified approach to airspace regulation. Malaysia flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, in an air corridor that was not blocked, but many airlines had stopped flying it because of the on-going civil war.