Malaysia Airlines is exiting the pandemic in a less than strong position. The airline has had to face some of the strictest COVID-related restrictions and has made no secret of the financial difficulties that these challenges have caused.
With little opportunity to do business, aside from rescue and repatriation flights and a bit of cargo work, the airline’s funds began to run short. It was reported that it was burning through $84 million a month, and by October 2020, its owner Khazanah warned of finances running dry. Days later, rumors indicated the airline was reaching breaking point, with Khazanah saying it could shut down if it’s not able to restructure.
But MAB did not shut down, and did receive the help it needed to implement its restructure. It has retired its six A380s, raised money through innovative means (like selling amenity kits) and focused on the things it could do, like flying cargo. It has also undergone a digital transformation, readying itself for a technology-driven future and for delivering a better travel experience to its passengers.
But the road to recovery is not a smooth one. Alongside the late lifting of restrictions in the local markets, MAB now faces surging fuel prices and disruption to its routings as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. Recovery is happening, but it’s happening slowly. Speaking at this week’s IBS Software Virtual Airshow 2022, Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi, Group COO of Malaysia Airlines, noted,
“The COVID 19 pandemic has been the most devastating tragedy for the aviation industry. And as an industry, we are forecasting a recovery – full recovery – will only happen in 2024.”