Malaysia Airlines Considers Name Change After A Year Of Tragedy

After a year that's seen tragedy hit two of their flights, causing the deaths of 557 people, Malaysia Airlines is reportedly considering a name change. It would be part of an effort to repair their brand, which makes sense — many, many people have blamed Malaysia Airlines for the MH370 and MH17 tragedies in a tasteless and/or inappropriate way. There are high potential economic stakes riding on their ongoing success: Malaysia Airlines employs over 20,000 people and flies over 50,000 people per day, according to the Mirror.

Changing up the Malaysia Airlines name and brand would be a major shift unique among some other commercial airliners — the company is actually a state-owned entity. It's what's known as a "flag carrier," an airline which enjoys backing from the state: Malaysia Airlines' majority ownership is controlled by the country's foremost wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional. Basically, this is likely why the name of the airline was so closely tethered to the country in the first place. As opposed to, say, Delta Airlines, which bears no relationship to any countries called Delta.

Speaking to the UK's Sunday Telegraph, Malaysia Airlines' commercial director Hugh Dunleavy addressed the company's need to shake off the negative publicity after two of the highest-profile plane crashes in recent memory.

Our majority shareholder, the Malaysian government, has already started a process of assessing the future shape of our business and that process will now be speeded up as a result of MH17. There are several options on the table but all involve creating an airline fit for purpose in what is a new era for us, and other airlines.
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According the The Telegraph, the airline is seeking outside investors both to try to bolster their operations at home, and signal to the international community that their long-term forecast can still be a rosy one. The company itself will be reviewing its flight routes to ensure that their planes aren't at risk again — MH17's crash has focused a lot of attention on where planes are and aren't allowed or advised to fly, and you'd have to imagine that a rebranded Malaysia Airlines would be especially wary of conflict zones in the future.

In addition to simply reviewing their own routes, they're also reportedly pushing for the formation of a new international entity, which would assess flight routes all over the world, disallowing some if too much risk is involved. This would be no small thing — global oversight might sometimes prove politically controversial, as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's recent, short-lived safety ban on flights to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport showed.

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Of course, whether a superpower like America would abide by the authority of such a global body is an open question — at present, different agencies in different parts of the world enforce their own policies, from the FAA in America to Eurocontrol in Europe. But all the same, Dunleavy insists that changes must be made.

This tragedy has taught us that despite following the guidelines and advice set out by the governing bodies, the skies above certain territories are simply not safe. MH17 has shown us that airlines can no longer rely on existing industry bodies for this information.

As for what new name Malaysia Airlines might adopt, well, that's too early to say. But it seems as though the company is stepping front and center on calls for reform, and if they want to rebuild a positive legacy in the wake of these two terrible tragedies, that's a pretty good start.

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