Air Transport World

Malaysia Airlines.(2008 PHOENIX AWARD)(Malaysia Airline System Bhd.)

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." Samuel Johnson's pithy observation resonates across time and distance as the recent history of our 2008 Phoenix Award winner, Malaysia Airlines, makes clear.

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When Idris Jala joined the carrier as MD/CEO on Dec. 1, 2005, having been recruited from Shell Malaysia, he faced a life-or-death crisis. The books showed that at the current rate of loss, which totaled MYR1.3 billion ($344 million) for the abbreviated 2005 nine-month fiscal year, MAS would be insolvent and out of business by April 2006. "We had a burning platform," Jala recalled to this magazine (ATW, 5/07, p. …

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