Malaysia Airlines warns of further losses

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Malaysia Airlines has warned of further losses in the second half of the year because of the two tragedies to hit the airline in recent months.

In a statement it said it had seen "a sharp decline" in weekly bookings.

It comes as the airline reported a second quarter net loss of 307m Malaysian ringgit ($97.4m; £58.7m) for the three months to June.

The airline has been affected by the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine and the disappearance of flight MH370.

"We expected the impact of MH370 on the performance in Quarter 2," said chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

"Given that, our team put in much hard work and effort to regain market confidence and rebuild sales. Tragically, just as we were beginning to see signs of recovery in all regions, we were dealt the blow of MH17.

"The full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17 is expected to hit Malaysia Airlines in the second half of the year," he added.

Average weekly bookings declined 33%, with numerous flight cancellations immediately after the MH17 incident, the company said.

Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March on its way to Beijing with 239 people on board while MH17 was shot down in Ukraine on 17 July killing all 298 passengers on board. It is unclear who is responsible for the latter incident.

Coffins of victims from MH17 arriving in Malaysia The bodies of some of the MH17 victims were flown back to Malaysia
Australian technicians prepare to launch a vessel to search for MH370 The search for the missing MH370 continues

Malaysia Airlines is being taken private by Malaysia's state investment firm Khazanah Nasional. A restructuring announcement from the company is expected on Friday.

The company said it operated in a "harsh business environment of stiff competition" and that even before the two tragedies it was "acutely aware" of the need to restructure. It has not made an annual profit since 2010.

Media reports suggest as much as 25% of its 19,500 strong workforce could lose their jobs and international routes are likely to be axed.

Reuters reported that the company's shares would be suspended ahead of the announcement.

'Brutal changes'

The BBC's Russell Padmore pointed out that Malaysia operates 108 aircraft, a similar sized fleet to Singapore Airlines, which is run with 5,000 fewer staff.

The BBC's Richard Westcott says there is talk of 25% job cuts as part of Malaysia Airlines' restructuring

Over the last nine years, Singapore has enjoyed profits of nearly $9bn, compared to Malaysia's losses of more than a $1bn, he added.

Analysts are sceptical as to whether the company can survive as a going concern.

"It will be immensely difficult for MAS to recover... they have dug a hole big enough to swallow the entire company," said Shukor Yusof, an analyst with Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.

"Unless brutal, structural changes are made, there is no long-term future," he added.

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