Malaysia Airlines plans to sack a third of its workforce

Malaysia Airlines plans to sack a third of its workforce

KUALA LUMPUR: Loss-making Malaysia Airlines is set to undergo a complete overhaul as it is restructured into a new company, with a rebranding that will be unveiled next week and changes planned to its fleet and network strategies. The ailing carrier has announced plans to lay off about a third of its 20,000 work-force, expected in the coming week, and will also shrink its capacity this year.

Christoph Mueller, who joined from Irish national carrier Aer Lingus, said in his first ever interview since taking over as chief executive on May 1 that the new company will be like a "start-up". A new name and livery are on the cards for Malaysia Airlines (MAS), sources told Reuters.

"I''m hired to run the new company entirely on commercial terms and there''s very little margin for error," Mueller told Reuters at the downtown Kuala Lumpur office of Malaysian state investor Khazanah, which took MAS private late last year as part of a $1.66 billion restructuring.

"It''s not a continuation of the old company in a new disguise, everything is new," said Mueller, who helped turn around carriers such as Aer Lingus, Belgium''s Sabena, and Germany''s Lufthansa.

Khazanah said on Monday that the chairman of audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Malaysia has been appointed to oversee the move of MAS'' assets and liabilities to a new company, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, which is due to start operating by September.

The airline, which has seen successive years of losses, suffered huge damage to its brand after flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared in March last year, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.

In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, and all 298 aboard were killed.

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