KUALA LUMPUR: Crisis-stricken Malaysia Airlines said today its second-quarter loss nearly doubled as the loss of flight MH370 spurred a decline in bookings, warning the red ink would accelerate as the year wears on.
The flag carrier said it posted a RM305.7 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 RM175 million 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 MH370 and the July 18 shooting down over Ukraine of flight MH17, which killed all 298 aboard that plane.
“The impact of the MH370 incident and intensified competition resulted in” a 6.7 percent drop in bookings, it said in a statement to the Malaysian stock exchange.
But the airline – which is in the process of being taken over by Malaysia’s state investment fund as part of a bid to restructure and rescue the company – warned that second-half results will be even worse.
“The full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17 is expected to hit Malaysia Airlines in the second half of the year, where we saw a sharp decline in average weekly bookings by 33 percent immediately after the MH17 incident, with numerous flights cancelled,” it said.
MAS has bled money for years, losing a combined USD1.3 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 travellers with their rock-bottom pricing.
But the sudden association with tragedy for an airline that previously had a solid safety record has pushed it the financial precipice.
MH370 inexplicably diverted from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course, and the Malaysian government says it is believed to have gone down far to the south in the Indian Ocean.
MH17 went down over a region of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels.
It is believed to have been shot down by a missile but investigators still don’t know who was responsible.