Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Christoph Mueller Gives Up on MAS

Malaysia Airlines announced on April 19, 2016 that their chief executive officer, Christoph Mueller, will leave his job in September, far ahead of the end of his three-year contract, due to “changing personal circumstances”. If you believe lah!
[Note: Mueller, a turnaround veteran, formally began his job on May 01, 2015 to oversee a $1.56 billion overhaul of MAS which he had described as “technically bankrupt”. The airline had endured a financial loss every year since 2011].

Two weeks earlier, Mueller had described the airline as a “ship that has many leaks” but said things are back on the right track. He did not clarify nor did he elaborate on his statement.
On June 17, Mueller decided to do just that. He told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle on its web portal that he had to trim 6,000 jobs because "many of the 20,000 employees who worked for the airline had nothing to do. In fact, when I walked through the hangars, people were sleeping”.
That was not the only problem. MAS also suffered from a bloated and overpriced supply chain – partly because the airline bought products from suppliers at prices 20 to 25 percent higher than the market value.
Mueller obviously didn’t know that this is a common practice in Malaysia. He said “Everything from pens to $200-million aircraft were purchased at these rates”.
And then he mentioned the “C” word. Corruption. One hint and that was it.
So MAS paid Mueller a lot of money just so he could tell Malaysians what we already knew!
He pointed out that MAS had 20,000 suppliers and, since he took charge, he had slashed the number to 4,000 and maintaining that the goal was to have only 2,000 suppliers.
Finally, he told us that the previous so-called turnaround plans made by MAS were half-hearted at best.
Of course, the government did not respond; they couldn’t.
But the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) blasted him, saying as an outsider, Muller did not understand Malaysian work culture. Nufam even intimated that sleep is important for workers to recover their energy! I guess they were alluding to “sleep breaks”!
I am really ignorant. I am a Malaysian and I too didn’t know that we are allowed to sleep at work.
Still, the fact is, Mueller is quitting. Maybe he has realized that reviving MAS is like trying to flog a dead horse!
If you ask me, MAS are a lost cause. For as long as there is political interference.
On Monday, I was in KL’s Jalan Hose to attend the NAWEM Toastmasters meeting. And I was voted Best Table Topics speaker!


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