Friday, September 9, 2011



Three unions in Malaysia Airlines representing about 15,000 employees have threatened picket action over the national carrier’s share swap exercise with AirAsia.Union representatives told reporters today that they feel the deal would not benefit MAS, and that they suspect the carrier’s new management team was planning the creation of a new brand within the airline as part of a union-busting move.

“We do not agree with the collaboration or the move to establish the new airline Sapphire (under the deal),” said MAS Employees’ Union (Maseu) president Alias Aziz.

Maseu is joining the Airline Workers Union of Sarawak and Air Transport Workers Union of Sabah in threatening industrial action in the attempt to stop the share-swap from going ahead.

In an attempt to bolster the fortunes of the flag carrier, state asset manager Khazanah Nasional Berhad swapped 20.5 per cent of MAS stock for a 10 per cent stake in Asia’s biggest budget carrier AirAsia on August 9.

The swap enabled AirAsia bosses Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his partner Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Meranun to sit on the MAS board and will ostensibly help turn it around.

Khazanah has denied that AirAsia was bailing out MAS.

Shareholders of AirAsia will get one free MAS warrant for every 10 shares in the low-cost carrier while MAS shareholders will get one free AirAsia warrant for every 30 MAS shares.

MAS announced in August a net loss of RM527 million for the second quarter of 2011 due to higher fuel costs despite recording a better yield and a 9 per cent growth in passenger revenue from the same period last year.

This brings total losses in the first half of the year to RM769 million even as the airline said that profit outlook for the second half of the year appears bleak.

Its main regional competitor Singapore Airlines, while also hit by higher fuel costs fared better with a S$44.7 million (RM108 million) net profit for the same period.

The flag carrier said its group total revenues increased to RM3.485 billion for the second quarter of 2011, or eight per cent more than the RM3.213 billion for the same quarter last year, while passenger revenue was RM2.086 billion for the same period this year compared to RM1.912 billion for the corresponding period in 2010.

Maseu secretary-general Abdul Malek Arif claimed today the union expected up to 80 per cent of the company’s staff to be transferred to Sapphire.

He said such a move would dilute the union’s membership and affect its ability to represent the employees who will no longer be represented in the new airline.

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