Govt-owned Khazanah seen running MAS as commercial entity - AirAsia CEO

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AMPANG (Sept 10): The planned restructuring of Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) by Khazanah Nasional Bhd indicates the latter's intention to run the loss-making airline as a commercial entity.

AirAsia Bhd Group Ceo Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said the budget airline welcomed the restructuring move by government investment arm Khazanah, which owned 69.37% of MAS.

"From what we are reading, Khazanah wants MAS to be run commercially,and we welcome that," Fernandes told reporters today on the sidelines of an event announcing AirAsia and Petroliam Nasional Bhd's customer loyalty programme partnership.

Fernades said the restructuring would benefit both Airasia and MAS as both firms would be able to focus on their respective strengths and create a healthy aviation industry.

Khazanah had on August 8 this year announced its plan to privatise MAS at 27 sen a share via a selective capital reduction and repayment exercise. MAS will subsequently be delisted from Bursa Malaysia.

According to Khazanah, the de-listing represents the first stage of its restructuring programme for MAS which followed wider losses for the airline following two aviation mishaps this year.

MAS' first half net loss came to RM750.43 million versus a net loss of RM454.81 million a year earlier.

Its aircraft for Kuala Lumpur to Beijing bound flight MH370 has been missing since March 8.

Investigations had indicated that the aircraft had made a U-turn, prompting many to believe it had ended in the Indian Ocean near Australia.

On July 17, MAS' flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine after the aircraft was shot down. Flight MH17 had left Amsterdam at 12.15pm (local time in the Netherlands) and was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.10am on July 18 (Malaysian time ).