Malaysia Airlines parent company says group is running out of cash

Malaysia Airlines parent company says group is running out of cash

The tail of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft is pictured at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
The tail of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft is pictured on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Sep 7, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

SINGAPORE: Malaysia Aviation Group, the holding company for Malaysia Airlines, said in a letter to lessors the group is unlikely to be able to make payments owed after November unless it receives more funding from state fund Khazanah.

The letter, reviewed by Reuters, follows a request by the troubled carrier for steep discounts on aircraft rentals from its lessors as part of a broad restructuring plan, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Malaysia Airlines later confirmed in a statement on Friday (Oct 2) it had reached out to its lessors, creditors and key suppliers recently as it embarks on an urgent restructuring exercise.

According to the letter, the aviation group was experiencing "an average monthly operating cash burn of US$84 million" but only had US$88 million in liquidity as of Aug 31 and an additional US$139 million available from Khazanah, its sole shareholder.

"Based on the current run-rate, absent further funding from shareholders, the group will likely be unable to meet its obligations, including payments to lessors, post November 2020," it said.

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The letter was sent to lessors last month but the exact date was not immediately clear.

Khazanah, the country's sovereign wealth fund, said it was supportive of the airline's restructuring efforts but if they prove unsuccessful, it will need to evaluate options on how to maintain connectivity for Malaysia.

Malaysia's national airline has struggled to recover from two tragedies in 2014 - the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 and the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine.

Khazanah took it private that year as part of a US$1.5 billion restructuring but efforts to turnaround its business have been further upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Malaysia Airlines said its current plan was "highly dependent on the individual contributions of all relevant stakeholders in supporting the group".

"It is intended that this restructuring exercise be completed over the next few months. However, if such an outcome is not possible, the group will have no choice but to take more drastic measures," it said.

Sources said Malaysia Airlines plans to negotiate the steep discounts with its lessors via a restructuring plan it is seeking to implement through a UK court process.

The sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

In addition to Malaysia Airlines, the holding company group includes other local carriers and entities involved in aircraft leasing and ground handling services.

Source: Reuters/aj