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10 years after MH370 vanished, Malaysia Airlines seeks to shed troubled past and rebuild credibility

Now, after posting its first net profit in more than 10 years, Chief Executive Officer Izham Ismail wants to write a new chapter – shedding the carrier’s troubled past and transforming it into a well-run, consistently profitable airline.

“The perception from the public is that this was a laid-back organisation,” Izham, who is managing director of the carrier’s parent Malaysia Aviation Group, said in an interview. “But the new Malaysia Airlines is different, we are creating an organisation that is hungry.”

Izham said 2024 will be a “year of credibility” for the airline, as it seeks to prove that consecutive years of operating profit weren’t a fluke caused by the post-pandemic surge in airfares and travel demand. He then aims to turn Malaysia Airlines into a premium carrier by the end of the decade.

The airline had turned to two foreign bosses – Aer Lingus Group Plc veteran Christoph Mueller and former Ryanair Holdings Plc executive Peter Bellew – to revive its fortunes, but both lasted about a year in their roles, before Izham, who has been with the carrier since 1979, took the reins in December 2017.

The former pilot, who is generally addressed as ‘Captain’ by his colleagues and peers, led Malaysia Aviation Group – which derives most of its income from the carrier – to a 766 million ringgit (US$161 million) net profit in 2023, its first since 2010. It also posted an operating profit in 2022.


Malaysia to reopen the search for MH370, 10 years after it vanished

Underscoring its revival, the airline last month signed a multi-year deal to become English soccer club Manchester United’s commercial airline partner. Izham said the agreement was part of an existing marketing budget and came “dirt cheap,” but didn’t disclose the