File photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia Airlines may be sold or shut down, Malaysia's leader said Tuesday, March 12, the latest bad news for a carrier that has been in crisis since suffering the loss of two planes.
With the carrier teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, sovereign wealth fund Khazanah stepped in to take it over several years ago and major reforms were instituted, including cutting thousands of staff.
But it has continued to fare poorly and its performance was blamed in large part for a set of poor financial results released by Khazanah last week.
Responding to questions about the airline's future, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters in parliament: "I think it is a very serious matter, to shut down the national airline.
"We will nevertheless be studying and investigating as to whether we should shut it down or we should sell it off or we should refinance it."
Official news agency Bernama reported that Khazanah last week posted a pre-tax loss of 6.3 billion ringgit ($1.54 billion) for 2018, compared with a pre-tax profit of 2.9 billion ringgit the year before.
Mahathir, 93 and in his second stint as premier, is seeking to reduce a mammoth national debt inherited from the previous, corruption-plagued regime.
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement it had been "working closely" with Khazanah on the next phase of its turnaround plan since September.