NUFAM endorses Jentayu Danaraksa’s alternative plan for MAS

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SUBANG JAYA (Nov 28): The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM), which reportedly represents 3,500 cabin crew at Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has endorsed an alternative proposal  made by Jentayu Danaraksa Sdn Bhd to restructure the national carrier, as the union seeks better terms for the 6,000 staff that may be laid off following Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s plan to turnaround the beleaguered airline.

Speaking to reporters today, NUFAM president Ismail Nasaruddin urged the government and Khazanah to open their doors to Jentayu Danaraksa, a  newly set-up financial advisory firm, and discuss the possibility of incorporating the latter’s proposal in the restructuring of MAS.

“There are parties which want to share their plans and proposals to save MAS, including the 6,000 workers. So the union is appealing to the government and Khazanah to discuss with these parties, especially Jentayu Danaraksa and take a positive approach before taking any drastic measures," he said.

"The government and Khazanah should take into consideration all views, including ours,” added Ismail.

Jentayu Danaraksa, a company formed by a group of bumiputera executives including former MAS managing director Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, has submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office to take over several assets within the airline group.

They include MAS Engineering Sdn Bhd, Flyfirefly Sdn Bhd and Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd (PMB), a company specifically set up and owned by the Ministry of Finance to finance aircraft acquisitions for MAS.

Jentayu Danaraksa managing director Feriz Omar said the proposal made by the company will complement Khazanah’s plan to turnaround MAS.

He added that Jentayu Danaraksa’s plan will not utilise a single sen of public money to turnaround the loss-making national airline.

“It is a complementary proposal which does not contradict with Khazanah’s proposal. With our proposal, the government does not have to come up with RM6 billion to save MAS. It will be lesser than that.

"We will not reveal the quantum until Khazanah opens its door. But rest assured that the assets will be bumiputera owned, led by professionals with decades of experience in aviation,” said Feriz.

Khazanah’s turnaround plan include the setting up of a new company to take over the assets and businesses of MAS, and involves a capital injection of RM6 billion. Khazanah's 12-point plan also includes a Malaysian Airline System (MAS) Bhd (Administration) Act 2014, which provides for the airline to be operated by a new entity. The proposed act was passed for first reading by the Parliament yesterday.

The proposed act provides for special laws for the administration of the airlines, its wholly owned subsidiaries and partially owned units.This will be established under a new entity called Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), which will replace MAS as the national carrier.

Several members of Parliament have criticised the proposed act as it allows MAS employees no recourse to take an industrial action against MAB. NUFAM also criticised this clause, saying it gives no voice to the current employees of MAS, some of whom have been serving the national airline for almost 30 years.

“We are worried that if this (proposed) act is passed, it will bring a big impact on the workers. In the act, there are clauses which state that cases at the industrial court cannot be carried forward into the new company. This is an aspect that is very worrying for us," said Ismail.

“At this moment, many cases involving MAS workers have been brought up to the industrial court, and what will happen if this (proposed) act is passed? Would these cases cannot be pursued? We are worried that it will affect existing cases in the industrial court, and it is clear that workers will lose their rights to demand anything from the company,” he added.

Meanwhile, Feriz said Jentayu Danaraksa will unveil details of its plan to finance the acquisition of MAS assets in two weeks, adding that it will involve issuing loan stocks and bonds to private investors.

Previously, Feriz had mentioned that private investors from the Middle East and Japan had given Jentayu Danaraksa financial support to take over the assets of MAS. He had also claimed that the quantum will be less than the RM6 billion price tag put forward by Khazanah.

“Ownership of MAS will remain in the hands of bumiputera professionals under our proposal. We will issue bonds and equity financing to acquire the 82 aircraft.

"However, we will not reveal the quantum now, because we need to know the latest numbers. We will also look at having a strategic partnership, but the ownership will still be in the hands of the bumiputera owners of Jentayu Danaraksa,” said Feriz.

The Malaysian Airline System Employees’ Union (Maseu), MAS' biggest trade union, had earlier given its backing to the alternative proposal by Jentayu Danaraksa.