The government is not in a position to extend a lifeline to ailing national carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAS), Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said.
“Well that is only an option, but certainly we want to see what is the best option available before us because, as mentioned by the prime minister, we have spent a huge amount of money for the last five years and currently we don’t have the capacity to do so,” Azmin told reporters at Parliament today.
The minister said this when asked if the government would bail out MAS.
Last Tuesday (March 13), Prime Minister Dr Mahathir said the government would conduct a study to decide on MAS’ fate – whether it will be shut down, sold off, or refinanced.
On Wednesday (March 20), he said that he still felt “love” for the troubled national carrier.
“I love MAS. I want MAS to be a national airline. But it seems as though we can’t afford it,” he added.
This was after MAS’ owner Khazanah Nasional said the airline had accounted for half of the RM7.3 billion impairment cost in 2018, which in turn resulted in Khazanah’s RM6.3 billion pre-tax loss for that year.
Dr Mahathir has since said that there have been private offers to take over MAS.
Azmin said this would be looked into.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Anthony Loke directed questions today on the future of MAS to Dr Mahathir, saying the prime minister was personally handling the issue.
He said there was no fixed schedule for a decision but suggested that the urgency of the matter merited early attention.
“I don’t know about the proposal as it is directed to the PM,” he told reporters when asked about parties that have shown interest in buying over the airline.
“There is no timeline but we need to decide the future of Malaysia Airlines as soon as possible as it is facing difficulties. It’s better for the government to decide soon.”