The Malaysian government is weighing up its options for the future of Malaysia Airlines, including selling or closing the state-run carrier, according to local reports.

Prime minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters at a news conference: “It is a very serious matter to shut down the airline. We will nevertheless be studying and investigating as to whether we should shut it down or we should sell it off or we should refinance it. All these things are open for the government to decide.”

Malaysia Airlines is wholly owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sovereign wealth fund of the government, which took over the carrier in 2014 – the same year flight MH370 disappeared and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.

The carrier posted a loss in 2018, though it says the result showed an improvement on 2017.

Commenting on the financial report, Malaysia Airlines CEO Izham Ismail said: “The year was an extremely challenging one, with the airline hampered by intense competition and volatility in fuel and FOREX. Whilst we saw traction in RASK [Revenue Average Seat per Kilometre] and CASK [Cost per Available Seat Kilometre] that margin gap was not enough to break even, although losses in 2018 were lower than the previous year.

“This was due to several factors, in particular the crew shortage which did have a significant impact on the year’s performance. We have gained some traction in stabilising our operations and continue to be vigilant in managing our revenue and cost.”

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