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Malaysia Airlines, also known as Malaysian Airline System (MAS), is the official flag carrier airline of Malaysia. Founded in 1946, the airline flies to over 60 destinations worldwide (excluding the destinations and routes serviced via code-share agreements and its subsidiaries). The airline's subsidiaries include Firefly, MASwings and MASkargo, and its Frequent Flyer Programs are Enchrich and Grads.
When Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak merged to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1962, the airline's name was changed to Malaysian Airways (although still abbreviated to MAL). But when Singapore exited the federation in 1966, the airline was renamed to Malaysia-Singapore Airlines. This arrangement lasted only six years, as differing shareholder needs led to the airline being split. The Singaporean government chose to develop their own airline, Singapore Airlines, while the Malaysian entity moved forward as Malaysian Airline System (MAS).
The airline operates a fleet of over 100 aircraft, including models such as the Boeing 747, the Airbus A330, A380 as well as the Boeing 737 and the Boeing 777 aircraft.
The economic boom period of the 1980s saw Malaysia rapidly expand its operations. By the late Eighties, the airline was flying to nearly 50 international destinations, including eight destinations in Europe as well as two destinations in the USA. It was also the first Southeast Asian airline to operate flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and South America in general.
Yet prior to the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, the airline suffered losses of around RM 250 million. The airline recovered from its losses by the 2002/2003 financial year, with record profits achieved during the 2003/2004 year (totalling over RM 460 million). The year 2005 saw the airline incur losses of around RM 1.3 billion, driven to a significant extent by escalating fuel prices, but with staff costs, handling and landing fees, as well as aircraft maintenance contributing to the airlines operating expenses.
A Business Turnaround Plan was launched in 2006, which turned the situation around by the 2006/2007 fiscal year. Route rationalising was one of the major contributing factors to this plan's success. In 2011, however, the airline again recorded a stunning net loss of RM 2.4 billion, attributed to rising fuel costs and mismanagement. It was during this time period that the direct flight route from Cape Town to Buenos Aires was discontinued.
By 2013, a net profit of RM 51.4 million was recorded during the fourth quarter, reversing the previous year's financial losses. Again, route rationalising was used to curtail profitability problems, with a resulting 6% reduction in the overall Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) flown.
The airline's primary hubs are situated at Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu International Airports, with a secondary hub situated at Kuching International Airport.
Prior to the introduction of the Business Turnaround Plans, which served to return the airline to profitability, Malaysia Airlines operated over 110 domestic flight routes and a further 114 international flight routes covering 6 continents. This number was pared down significantly, with the airline now flying to 87 destinations worldwide from its primary hub in Kuala Lumpur.
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