Malaysia Airlines must find new ways to restore confidence in the ailing brand

What was once a globally respected icon of the aviation industry is in danger of becoming the laughing stock of the world and an embarrassment to all Malaysians.

The arrival of Christoph Mueller seems to have done nothing to challenge the status quo. Last Tuesday we saw MAB make the extraordinary decision to introduce baggage limitations for long haul passengers to Europe.

Citing safety concerns, the carrier temporarily banned check in luggage to destinations in Europe. No details were given but MAB seems to be in panic mode after the previous tragedies.

What a branding disaster! I presume that senior management made the decision only after a great deal of discussion that should have focussed on the likely reactions of consumers who were slowly coming back to the airline.

Unsurprisingly, the market erupted and the carrier was ridiculed globally with plenty of negative banter on social media. Unsurpringly, in less than a day MAB made a humiliating U-turn.

Malaysia Airlines - is this how you restore confidence in an airline?
Malaysia Airlines – is this how you restore confidence in an airline?

I for one am absolutely gobsmacked at this latest branding disaster. We were told last year that a new brand was to be launched in December yet there is no sign of the new brand. And the lack of an announcement about the rebrand delay needs to be addressed.

Following the fiasco, management attempted to justify the decision by claiming ‘unseasonably strong headwinds’ and a circuitous route was the cause.

Three days later, the carrier released a press release informing us that the overhaul of the airline was “bitter, and the fitness programme required to bring us back into shape would cause a lot of sweat and sometimes tears. But it would be rewarding in the end.”

I won’t reproduce any more of the press release because it goes on to suggest more effective competitors from the Middle East have increased MAB’s costs by 20% and that the deal with Emirates is a good thing for Malaysians. It also talks about ‘rebuilding confidence’ and a new ‘collaborative style’. You can read the full press release here.

I’d like to know how the airline is going to rebuild confidence when departments and management appears to be doing anything but collaborating. And if there is collaboration, then someone should have stood up and stopped this farce before it began.


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