Editor’s Note: This commentary by Sin Chew Daily provides an alternative view into what the leading mainstream Chinese media thinks of the MYAirline fiasco. This article first appeared on the Sin Chew Daily news portal (English version) yesterday (Oct 19) under the headline “MYAirline wants a comeback? Tough Job”.
BUKIT Aman Commercial CID director Ramli Yoosuf confirmed that MYAirline co-founder Datuk Allen Goh Hwan Hua and his family had been detained and would face the court hearing.
Goh owns 98% of MYAirline’s shares, of which 88% of the shares are held by his multinational company Zillion Wealth Bhd. In short, he is the big boss behind the now defunct MyAirline.
The police have detained Goh and his family to facilitate investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).
Established on Nov 1, 2021, MYAirline started its inaugural flight on Dec 1 the following year. On Oct 12 this year, the low-cost carrier stopped operating without any prior warning.
Although the airline has stopped flying less than a year after its first flight, its website is still around, and nothing could come more ironical than its eye-catching tagline “MYAirline Your Experience Matters” and a bunch of text that attempts to explain the aviation company’s core values and commitment to excellence and reliability.
There are over 5,000 commercial airlines with aviation codes throughout the world. And given the large number of legally operating companies, the number of airlines that go bust each year is also significant.
Who wants to inherit its liability?
But from the massive volumes of data we have gone through, MYAirline could be the first in the world to have stopped flying overnight without any warning or tell-tale sign at all.
The airline could have kept a lid pretty well on its unannounced suspension of service. As many as 125,000 passengers were affected by the move, while 900 staff members who lost their jobs overnight had not been forewarned.
Passengers arriving at the airport had the shock of their lives seeing the check-in counters abandoned and unstaffed.
No doubt, what MyAirline has done has made it an international laughing stock, badly hurting the image of Malaysia’s aviation industry.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Hasbi Habibollah said MAVCOM (Malaysian Aviation Commission) investigated the company on Oct 3 but could find no sign that the company was facing any imminent financial difficulty that could have warranted immediate grounding of all its flights.
On Oct 9, the company briefed aviation regulator that it was finalising the details of negotiations on the transfer of shares to local and foreign investors but out of the blue, it abruptly suspended all flights barely three days later on Oct 12.
Only until this Monday (Oct 16) that the so-called MYAirline interim accountable executive Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (former director-general of the Malaysian Civil Aviation Department) tendered an apology on behalf of the company in a media conference, promising that passengers would get refunded the moment new investors put in the money although he failed to provide a timetable.
He also said the company was in the midst of rehabilitation in order to regain its licence so that MYAirline could resume its operation.
Uphill task to resuscitate MYAirline
Even with such a major fiasco, we have yet to see the company’s biggest shareholder to come forward and explain. Which local and foreign investors are keen to invest in a company that severely lacks CSR and morality? No company is keen to dump its money into a bottomless pit!
MAVCOM said MYAirline actually was in a stable financial position to sustain the company’s regular operation. If this was the case, how could it collapse all of a sudden?
It is therefore absolutely necessary to seriously evaluate to suspend the company’s ASL (air service licence) because airplane is unlike a bus running on land; the slightest negligence could mean serious air mishap.
There’s no way to resuscitate MYAirline because there are several questions yet to answer: How is the company’s refund programme? How to rebuild bruised consumer confidence? The company’s finances must be made completely transparent.
The company’s senior management should even defer recruiting of industrial professionals for now. It must come up with comprehensive short, medium and long-term operating and restructuring plans. – Oct 20, 2023
Main pic caption: Sabahkini2