Congratulations, Malaysia Airlines (MAS)!
Against the run of play, MAS has scored a beguiling, sensational goal against the opposition, also known as the “Outsiders”, comprising Malaysians critical of its shabby financial performance over the past two decades.
“Malaysia Airlines scores 2-year partnership with FAM” reads one headline, referring to the flag carrier’s latest collaboration with the Football Association of Malaysia.
Amidst uncertainty over its own future – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said his government would even consider shutting the airline as losses mount – MAS has pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
There was no mention of the amount involved in MAS sealing this partnership with the FAM. The other sponsors of the soccer association are listed here.
The Malaysian soccer team is ranked 167 in the world by FIFA, two notches lower than its smaller neighbour Singapore.
Money aside, what’s most striking is the tenure of the sponsorship – two years.
Earlier this month MAS also made headlines for its generosity in sealing a three-year deal worth MYR40 million to Malaysia’s athletes.
What does all these charitable moves mean, other than Malaysian sportsmen and women getting to fly on board MAS?
One, it means there is now not a snowball’s chance in hell the Malaysian government would shut or even sell MAS.
Two, it means MAS gets a lifeline for at least another three years.
It’s no wonder then that Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund and sole stakeholder of MAS, confidently assured us it would continue to back the sick airline.
Think about it: how could the government possibly shutter its flag carrier that has promised to sponsor and fly the country’s athletes representing Malaysia at global events like the Olympics and Asian Games?
Moreover, it is unlikely any entity would enter into an agreement to buy MAS if it is forced to fulfill the accords that it had already inked, including the MYR40 million slated for “Team MAS” athletes competing in international competitions until 2022.
Clever, isn’t it?
Who’s right – MAS or Mavcom?
Meanwhile in its latest Consumer Report , the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) indicated MAS had the most number of passenger complaints during the second half of 2018 (July to December).
Of the 810 complaints registered against airlines, MAS recorded 413 complaints, followed by AirAsia (230) and Malindo (69).
This is startling given the number of complaints against MAS is almost twice that of AirAsia, which ironically flew more people than the national airline during the said period!
It is even more perplexing when MAS had announced publicly that its customer satisfaction index rose 4% year-on-year for 2018.
But if anything, the complaints are a reflection of how Malaysians are feeling today.
You’d think Malaysians should be a happy lot since they kicked out the previous government, which was seen as corrupt and deceitful, at the last general election on 9 May 2018.
In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is graded fourth behind Singapore (34th), Thailand (52nd) and the Philippines (69th).
In 2018, Malaysia was ranked second happiest in Southeast Asia.