Thursday, August 28, 2014

Global Aviation: Two Sequential "All-Souls Lost" Crashes Sends MH Stock Tumbling

According to AFP, disaster-prone Malaysia Airlines (MH) said Thursday (August 28) that its second-quarter loss nearly doubled and forecast more red ink in the second half of the year, as two crippling air disasters sent passenger bookings tumbling.

MH said it posted a 305.7 million ringgit ($97.2 million) loss in the April-June quarter, which followed the March 8 disappearance of flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew aboard.

That compared to a 175 million ringgit loss in the same period of last year.

The latest results mark the sixth straight quarterly loss for Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which has struggled to stay competitive and is now in dire financial straits following the loss of MH370 and the July 18 shooting down over Ukraine of flight MH17, which killed all 298 aboard that plane.

Both airline disasters resulted in a 6.7% decline in airline bookings.

MAS has bled money for years, losing a combined $1.3 billion over the past three calendar years before 2014, as intensifying competition from more nimble rivals like Malaysia's fast-growing budget carrier AirAsia have lured away travelers with their rock-bottom pricing.

COMMENT: Although MH heretofore had a solid safety record, two "all-souls lost" disasters depict what can happen to an airline's overall reputation.

Investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which owns 70% of MH, has said it will announce a major restructuring plan possibly as early as Friday in a bid to save the 68-year-old airline, one of Malaysia's biggest brands.

Speculation is that the restructuring could include large layoffs from among MAS's nearly 20,000 employees, the slashing of unprofitable long-haul routes to Europe and other destinations, and a management shake-up.

"It will be immensely difficult for MAS to recover... They have dug a hole big enough to swallow the entire company," said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.