[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia Airlines is set to return to profitability by 2018, helped by job cuts and route changes put in place after reeling from two high-profile plane crashes, Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller said.
The airline is on track with its restructuring effort and is done with laying off people, Mr Mueller said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Singapore. The carrier wants to buy and own some aircraft once the targets are met as the existing fleet is skewed toward leases, he said.
Mr Mueller took over in March 2015, tasked with reviving a carrier that was racking up losses even before the deaths of hundreds of people in two crashes in 2014 that led to a plunge in traffic. Malaysia's government bought out small shareholders to delist the airline. After cutting 6,000 jobs, slashing pay and trimming capacity by 30 percent, the CEO said he is done with major changes in his effort to revive the carrier.
Malaysia Airlines is shifting to smaller jets as part of the revamp, seeking a buyer for two of its six Airbus Group SE A380s. Five superjumbos are deployed on its London route, with the other used for charter trips, including flying the Real Madrid soccer team on an Asian tour and taking Muslim pilgrims to Mecca.
The carrier said last month it will retire and sell Boeing Co 777-200 aircraft from its fleet after cutting loss-making Amsterdam and Paris routes this year and partnering with Dubai- based Emirates for some European destinations.