Five Companies Interested In Rescuing Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines is currently being courted by five different airlines; Qatar, AirAsia, Malindo Air, China Southern, and Japan Airlines. KLM-Air France was rumored to have made an offer for 49% of the airline but has since denied these claims.

Malaysia Airlines has five different bids. Photo: Getty Images.

Why is Malaysia Airlines in trouble?

Malaysia Airlines is an unlucky airline. It suffered two major tragedies that killed all passengers on board; one aircraft lost across the Indian Ocean, another shot down in Ukraine. Then it has had its fleet of 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft undelivered thanks to the well-publicized crisis.

Facing additional competition from the Middle Eastern carriers and regional rivals Singapore Airlines (who used to be part of Malaysia Airlines no less), Cathay Pacific and AirAsia, the carrier has struggled to find a place in the 2020s.


But apart from these issues, the airline is actually quite a good investment with a robust route network and a relatively modern fleet. Thus it seems that the best action moving forward would to find an airline partner to invest in the struggling airline, and help it lift back to its old glory days.


“The bids from the foreign carriers are more comprehensive and strategic as both plan to capitalize on the strategic location of Malaysia for their operations,”

AirAsia has been cutting into the profits of Malaysia for some time. Photo: AirAsia

What are the details of these five offers?

Currently, there are five rumored solid offers

  • Qatar
  • AirAsia
  • China Southern
  • Malindo Air
  • Japan Airlines

We are not surprised by the Qatar offer, as they seem to have their hands in everything. In fact, they own a chunk of so many airlines that they could open up their own alliance if they wanted to.

AirAsia is the local low-cost powerhouse and one of the main rivals of the carrier. Whilst they do cater to different markets, plenty of passengers do make a choice between the two when flying within Malaysia. As such, perhaps a partnership will mean that they can then focus on external competitors. AirAsia can be a ‘Jetstar’ to Malaysia’s ‘Qantas’, so to speak.

Not many details are known about the China Sothern Airlines bid or the Malindo Air bid at this stage. But as Qatar owns around 5% of China Southern, it is kind of a double ownership deal.

Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
JAL is the most attractive offer in our opinion. Photo: JAL

What about Japan Airlines?

The last deal is from Japan Airlines. JAL and Malaysia already have a codesharing deal and this could be a natural extension. According to FlyerTalk, they have offered to buy 25% of the struggling airline and turn its hub into a natural extension of their airline empire. So far this deal seems the most solid.

As for the Air France – KLM bid, well that appears to not be true. The airline has since said that “Air France-KLM Not Involved In Malaysia Airlines Stake“.

Speaking to Reuters they said:

“Air France-KLM had previously been in contact with Malaysia Airlines’ shareholders, but at this stage, Air France-KLM is not a current party to the sales process of Malaysia Airlines.”

If only Alitalia had the same popularity as Malaysia Airlines.

What do you think? Who do you think would be the best company to buy Malaysia Airlines? Let us know in the comments.


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Suresh Menon

I think KLM-Air France/MAS will give the best synergy between both airlines. MAS is well covered in Asia Pacific and KLM-AF has extensive network within Europe and good connections to Canada, USA and South America. The alliance will probably create one of the most extensive seamless global flight coverage. MAS will also benefit from the infusion of new leadership which is sorely lacking now while KLM-AF can benefit from MAS inflight hospitality and excellence.


I believe Qatar and Air France- KLM group are the best rescuers as they have not only the money to turn the airline back to profitability but they can also help the airline expand its operations once MH breaks even with profit




I like Malaysia Airlines ( I am Malaysian after all) but I am afraid to say that my view is Malaysia Airlines, like Alitalia , Air India and SAA, is beyond rescue. Buying into MH is like throwing good money after bad. Couple of years ago, I had also mentioned in another internet news site comments that Malaysia Airlines was in the “LAST CHANCE SALOON”. That was after the two major incidents when the Malaysian govt. had to pump in Billions of $$$ tax payers’ money, into the airline, changed the organization and even created a new company but still… Read more »

Vera Venugopal

I shud think Japan Airlines as a hub in Malaysia, KL, would be a natural connection for them between east n west.


Qatar and JAL are both one world members. If they join forces to put in a bid, it will probably be the most compelling one. If they team up together it will create a very wide network coverage in Asia Pacific region and also strengthen the alliance network in Asia which is currently dominated by star alliance. AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes has mentioned in the past that taking over Malaysia Airlines will be the lowest priority for AirAsia. So although it would create the Qantas-Jetstar alike entity, it is not likely to happen. On the other hand, Malindo’s bid would… Read more »


Malaysia is not unlucky, its badly managed. First and foremost, the MH370 disappearance was not something anyone had any control over. MH17 was a deliberate decision to fly over a conflict zone. The other factor is that as an ego move they bought the A380 when it put them into dire financial straights when they already were there. It was the wrong aircraft for them and they are still paying for it. Another deliberate and frankly stupid decision. The MAX is affecting everyone and Airbus is having serious delivy problem with the A320NEO so its not unique to Malaysia. You… Read more »


AirAsia and Malindo are non starters for MAS partnership and will be bad for competition and consumers. JAL’s reputation is not superb and there will be cultural issues with partnerships as Japanese are not known for inclusive management. Qatar may be ok but will not be able to infuse changes to MAS. Hence, a truly global airline of repute such as KLM-AF would be the best bet.

Fu Linyu

The only airline with the best synergies and an expanded network plus a base in SE Asia is JAL. Besides, they’re only offering 25% which means MAS/Khazanah is still the majority shareholder, although that is not without its woes, given their historically poor performance.
AirAsia is already flying most of MAS’ routes, but if they were to partner, it may be worthwhile letting MAS concentrate on the higher value routes like KUL-LHR, while AK/D7 concentrate on the regional lower value routes with higher density planes like the A321. This would be similar to SQ/MI/Scoot.


I do not think JAL will be a good cultural fit as japanese in general have a tendency to micro-manage and distrust foreign partners. Also the Board must be more balanced, so 49% JV partner will be better. An airline should be run as a commercial entity, not a national pride as with MAS currently. MAS probably has weak big data mining capabilities and not responding to changes in demand/supply situation and respond to competitors. For instance, MAS prices itself out for the lucrative KL to London route which is crazy. And its baggage segmentation price points mimic the practices… Read more »


Malindo or Air Asia good.