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Malaysia Airlines to trim staff, routes under reform plan

© AFP | Azman Mokhtar, managing director of state investment fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad which owns Malaysia Airlines, addresses media in Kuala Lumpur, August 29, 2014Azman Mokhtar, managing director of state investment fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad which owns Malaysia Airlines, addresses media in Kuala Lumpur, August 29, 2014

Malaysia Airlines will slash thousands of staff, trim routes, replace its CEO and consider strategic stake sales to outside investors under plans announced Friday to save it from bankruptcy after two devastating disasters.

"The combination of measures announced today will enable our national airline to be revived," said Azman Mokhtar, head of state investment fund Khazanah Nasional, which has taken over the struggling company.

Azman said the restructuring plans -- which will cost 6 billion ringgit ($1.9 billion) -- would result in the airline's nearly 20,000 employees being reduced to 14,000 to put it on a "right footing in terms of staff size".

He said the airline would carry out a "route rationalisation" -- a term Malaysia Airlines has used previously for cutting unprofitable routes -- and to pick a new CEO by the end of 2014.

He added that "a sell-down, or partial sell-down, of Khazanah's stake to appropriate strategic buyers from the private sector will be considered" in the future.

Khazanah Nasional, which already owns 70 percent of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), announced plans in early August to acquire all remaining shares and de-list the company as it works to revive it.

MAS has struggled for years to meet the challenge of rising industry competition.

On Thursday it posted its sixth straight quarterly loss for April-June and forecast more red ink over the rest of the year, saying the MH370 and MH17 air disasters and associated stigma have compounded its financial troubles by ravaging bookings.

MH370 went missing on March 8 after inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. The Malaysian government says it is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, but no trace has been found and it remains a mystery what caused it to go missing.

MH17 went down on July 18 over a region of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels. Western leaders say it was shot down by the separatists but investigators have not been able to ascertain who was responsible.