Malaysia Airlines Is Going To Make a Few Changes

A Malaysia Airlines counter at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on July 17, 2014.
A Malaysia Airlines counter at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on July 17, 2014. – Olaf Kraak/EPA

It’s hard to think of an airline in all of aviation history that’s had a worse four months than Malaysia Airlines. So it should come as no surprise that the beleaguered company, which lost a plane in March (presumably killing all 239 on board) and had another shot down over Ukraine in July (definitely killing all 298 on board), is going to rethink a few things.

The Malaysian government announced today that it will be taking over the airline, buying out minority shareholders (the government already owns 69 percent of the company) for 12.5 percent more than the shares’ current value. Which is nice, but still not a great return on the investment since the stock’s value has dropped sharply in the last three years — even predating the loss of the two planes and passengers. The buyback will cost over $430 million.

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The government plans to take the company off the stock exchange, but has divulged little else about how it intends to save the airline other than it will be a “complete overhaul’’ to restore the airline to profitability. This won’t be easy, as the Associated Press points out that Malaysia Airlines’ “financial performance is among the worst in the industry’’ and has already been through numerous unsuccessful restructures in the last decade. It’s currently mired in $4 billion of debt.