KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The union representing Malaysia Airlines employees is calling for the resignation of the airline’s chief executive, saying new management is needed to revive the beleaguered flag carrier.
The union’s secretary Mohamad Jabbarullah Abdul Kadir said Thursday that the state-owned airline has been mired in losses for four straight years and is now grappling with the aftermath of the Flight 370 tragedy. The jet disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board.
He said the government and airline have done their best in handling the tragedy, but CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team have failed to show leadership in charting the airline’s future.
Mohamad Jabbarullah said staff frustration was not due to the plane crisis but had built up over the years because of management’s failure to engage employees and address internal problems. Bankruptcy isn’t an option for the airline that has 19,500 staff worldwide, he said.
“We have lost trust in the current management. Staff morale is very low due to a lack of leadership and direction. We need a new team with experience to turn around the airline,” he told reporters.
The union’s demand will add to pressures on Malaysia Airlines, which is already struggling to repair its image after Flight 370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.
Airline officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
The carrier’s first quarter loss swelled 59 per cent to 443.4 million ringgit ($137.6 million), hit by a backlash in China.
Last year, the airline’s losses ballooned to 1.17 billion ringgit ($363 million), nearly three times larger than its 433 million ringgit loss in 2012.
Mohamad Jabbarullah said the union, which has about 8,000 members, is urging Prime Minister Najib Razak to intervene “to rescue the airline from disintegrating.”
The government has said it will not bail out the carrier.
The union will submit a memorandum to Najib soon to appeal for a new management team with strong experience in the aviation industry.
Shares of Malaysia Airlines have plunged since Flight 370 disappeared.