Today is MAS 40th Anniversary.To reflect back on it’s past 40 years, do read history and aviation buff Bigdog’s latest posting here.
For human, there is a saying that life begins 40.
At that age, one is supposed to have reached some level of maturity, knowledg-ability and experienced. But most important, the age 40 is the usual age most men acquire a sense of responsibility.
Known to Muslim, Prophet Muhammad received the holy message at 40. Before the revelation came, he spent time much making deep reflection and contemplating on life, the world, his existence, etc..
MAS is not human. It is a company. But since it is being steered by human, it is perhaps as good as any time to ask the pertinent question of what does it want to be.
In the way the aviation world is shaping up, the thinking that MAS can go on to be a public listed company to pursue profit can also pursue social role needs rethinking. Partly the mistake of previous administration, nevertheless Air Asia proves that such thinking need to be reviewed.
The role to link the two sides of the country, reaching to the interiors, international diplomacy, promoting tourism, flag carrier and name of Malaysia, and various other social roles has cost to it. Now, MAS is in no position to absorb that cost and be expected to continue to meet stakeholders expectation of maximising shareholders wealth i.e. make profit.
It is not impossible for MAS to turn around. National flag carier like JAL managed to do so.
However, the do so, it has to be clear and focus in it’s vision and mission. MAS cannot have two visions, with separate set of missions, strategy and implementation plan.
Despite the trying times, it has already started on it’s attempt to comeback with acquisition of new planes. To keep itself a player, it has to continue to reinvest. It means more money.
If the national leadership views that they want MAS to be profitable, then social role will have to be compromised. It is money for money sake.
But then if it is about it’s social role for rakyat and nation, be reminded that it means Government will be pumping money without expected return until there is return for commercial airliner to take up that role.
Air India is an example of former commercial airliner that have been reduced to play only the social role.
What, how and when of such strategy to keep MAS as only a social purpose role can be sorted out later. The first step is the decision by the Prime Minister and the Government to make their pick.
Profit or people and nation?
That ‘revelation’ is much awaited by MAS and the industry for them to be clear where to put their hearts into. At 40, it is as good as any.