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Malaysia Airlines uncertain future further clouded by hiccup involving defence minister




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’s national carrier which has a cloud of uncertainty hanging over its future, made it impossible for an important minister in Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad Cabinet to miss an appointed with the latter in London.

Dr Mahathir was in London for a three-day working visit on June 15 while Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu was scheduled for a visit to France but decided to go and see the PM in London.

A technical glitch caused the Malaysian Airlines MH002, scheduled to land in London at 5:55 am on June 16, was delayed by two and half hours.

It took off on June 15 arriving at 8:26 am at Heathrow Airport on June 16. This caused the Minister to miss the meeting with Dr Mahathir and his ministry issued a statement saying it wish such incidents do not occur again.

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The airline has apologised to Defence Mohamad Sabu for the delay saying it was aware of the meeting between the defence minister and the PM and “spared no expense to ensure that the aircraft was safe to fly as safety is of the utmost importance at all times for the airline.”

It added that upon arriving in London, it arranged for an expedited clearance as well as alternative flights for the Defence Minister and his entourage to fly to Paris to carry out their working visit.

The Defence Ministry had issued a statement on Monday, June 24, expressing regret for the incident, which caused Mr Mohamad to miss an important meeting with Dr Mahathir in London.

The statement from the Defence Ministry, which was published on Twitter, said, “The appointment that should have happened on the morning of June 16 failed to take place. The Minister was on his way to France but had dropped by London to meet with Dr Mahathir,” and expressed hopes that this kind of issue would not be repeated.

“This inconvenience is much regretted and it is hoped that will not repeat this in future.”

Dr Mahathir in March said the government might sell the airline which is not making money after billions of Malaysian ringgit were invested in the company to salvage it from bankruptcy.

Last week, according to Malaysian National News Agency Bernama, Dr Mahathir again said the possibility of the airline being sold was in consideration, as long as good offers were made.

The airline ranked 36th in the world in the latest Skytrax rankings, released only last week. Six years ago, Malaysia Airlines ranked 14th in the world. The national carrier has had serious management and financial issues and has not been able to break even for the last five years straight.

In March, the Malaysian government announced that they had received several foreign and local offers for the airline.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak chimed in when talk of Malaysia Airlines being sold heated up, saying, “No. Absolutely not. It’s a wrong move because Malaysia Airlines is our pride and joy. Malaysia Airlines must continue as our national airline. There must be a turnaround plan. When I was chairman of Khazanah (Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund), our turnaround plan was working.”

You cannot replace our national pride with something else. Almost every country has a national airline.”/ TISG

Read related: Malaysia won’t be shutting down airline, Finance Minister blames Najib for causing confusion

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