A government-led review of Malaysia Airlines – the carrier reeling from the disappearance of one aircraft and the alleged shooting down of another – is examining the case for renaming the company.
Two people familiar with the situation said the Malaysian government – which through the country's sovereign wealth fund has a 69 per cent stake in Malaysia Airlines – was looking at a rebranding alongside other potentially far-reaching options to safeguard the carrier's future.
Some analysts have questioned whether the carrier can survive following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370 in March – the aircraft has still not been found – and the alleged shooting down of flight MH17 this month over eastern Ukraine by pro-Russia separatists.
On Sunday, Malaysia Airlines said the Kuala Lumpur government's review of the future shape of its business would be speeded up following the MH17 crash, with the loss of all 298 on board. It declined to comment further on the review.
The disappearance of MH370 with all 239 on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing had a negative impact on ticket sales, and the airline could face a similar slow down with the loss of MH17 – although one person close to the company said it should be a short-term dip.
Malaysia Airlines' shares have fallen 29 per cent since the start of 2014, and the company has recorded net losses for the past three years.
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The person close to Malaysia Airlines said the government-led review would consider renaming the airline, founded in 1947, but stressed no decisions had been reached.
Another person with knowledge of Malaysia Airlines cautioned that rebranding may not be straightforward because Malaysia's economy is partly built on tourism, and therefore it was important for the carrier to bear the country's name.
The people familiar with the government-led review of the carrier said it could lead to a reshaping of the company – for example, its aircraft maintenance unit could be spun off.