Should AirAsia, MAS, Malindo, Firefly be saved? How?

P Gunasegaram


COMMENT | One of the first responses I got when I sent out our exclusive story on Malaysian airlines asking for aid from the government via WhatsApp was from a person in the food and beverage industry: “Who’s going to help us?”

That message very starkly highlighted the heart of the matter in any kind of economic stimulus/revival/aid in the current situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic: Resources are limited, so who should get the most out of aid from the government?

Obviously, whichever that would give the biggest bang for the buck, right? That means the most amount of people and the greatest possible multiplier effect, which is basically another term for spreading the money around.

So, before the government rushes out to aid the airlines whose revenues have tumbled, are there other sectors that are in dire need? Yes, certainly. Look at the food, beverage and retail sectors. Any prolonged downturn will force their closure.

What about manufacturers and other service providers? They too are badly affected. Compared to the airline sector, I dare say many more jobs will be lost here. There are other sectors to think of besides airlines.

Before giving aid to the airlines, the government has to be very circumspect and weigh matters carefully. The four airlines in Malaysia that matter and are Malaysian-registered are (in the order of importance) AirAsia Group Bhd, Malaysia Airlines Bhd, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd and Firefly. Let’s call them the Big Four for convenience. Don’t know why but the Big always seem to come in Fours.

Here are five things to weigh carefully when considering any kind of aid package for the airline industry...

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