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By June 03, 2015 , , , , , ,

You might have heard that Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is current undergoing a major restructure, in a move likened to US bankruptcy Chapter 11. This involves an administrator being appointed, infrastructures shut down or sold off, and the inevitable staff redundancies. In fact, its newly appointed CEO, Christophe Mueller has hinted at a new branding direction and renaming the airline. This could be a change of its symbol, colour or the airline’s name itself.

From a business perspective, I have faith that Mueller is on the right track: A new name and branding will give the airline a renewed hope from a disastrous 2014 that saw the tragedies of MH370 and MH17. As a Malaysian and sometimes passenger of Malaysia Airlines, I cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness that come 1 September, Malaysia Airlines will be relegated to history books.

It is true that Malaysian Airlines have suffered financial loss for many years now, but I am still strangely proud of the airline. Perhaps it is due to the fact that when people have no idea about Malaysia, they have at least flown on Malaysia Airlines – it has given me a point to connect with others in a foreign land. Afterall, “MH”, which stands for Malaysian Hospitality have, for many years, provided its passengers from all over the world a glimpse into the Malaysian culture – from food, promotional/ tourism video, right down to its cabin crew’s uniform…especially its cabin crew’s uniform.

In this day and age where flying seems to have lost its charm, MAS cabin have managed to preserve the old-world charm: it is a delight to see the female crews strolling past the customs check-point in their elegant, feminine and well-fitted kebaya, amidst a sea of suit-skirts and suit-pants. 

Again with the sentiments: As mismanaged as Malaysia Airlines may have been, I had some pretty great travelling experience with the carrier. A few years ago I was aboard the aircraft with my family during Chinese New Year, and we were given special treats on top of the regular flight meal – chocolate in the shape of mandarins. It was a nice touch to acknowledge the multi-cultural society that Malaysia is and it certainly felt festive.

How cute are these!

What’s more, I’m sure many Malaysians would agree that MAS holds a special place in their heart, a name that spells many firsts. In fact, my first trip to Australia was on board a MAS aircraft. I was 20, nervous and excited about embarking on the journey to complete my bachelor degree. It was an exciting time in my life, being the first time I’ve travelled alone. My baggage was overweight and my poor father paid a fortune for the overweight checked baggage (Sorry, Dad!)

But when I was on board, a lovely cabin crew gave me a couple of Ferrero Rochers chocolate truffles upon learning that I was travelling solo. When I told him I had brushed my teeth and may have to declare the chocolates (yeah I brush my teeth on the plane. Dental hygiene is important yo,) he cheekily told me to put them in my pocket and I will get through customs just fine. I followed his advice and got through the customs fine*.

Finally, who can forget that as you land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with your heart racing just thinking about your loved ones at the arrival gate... and the PA announcement comes on:

“…And to all Malaysians, welcome home.”

Not being a sookie lala here, but I have bawled my eyes out once and got teary-eyed a few times upon hearing that line. It never fails to tug on my heartstrings every time I hear it. After so many years, Malaysia Airlines = home.

I think I got a bit carried away with my MAS stories here, but the point is, though I will miss the old Malaysia Airlines, I hope the new Malaysia Airlines, or whatever it is called, will retain its spirit – warm, friendly yet still rich in Malaysian culture.

*Please remember to declare anything that is listed on the immigration/passenger card.

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