There appears no respite from bad news. This week Malaysia’s beleaguered national flag carrier was forced to turn back another flight in mid-air due to technical reasons, making it the fourth such incident since flight MH370 disappeared with 239 people on board less than seven weeks ago.
An ATR 72 belonging to Malaysia Airlines short-haul subsidiary, Firefly, departed Penang International Airport at 6.55 am (local time) but turned back 15 minutes after its landing gear failed to retract, according to a statement by the airline. Although Flight FY1002/MH9948 carrying 64 passengers and four crew members and bound for the northern city of Kota Baru landed safely the incident has once again cast doubts on the maintenance standards of the airline. The incident occurred just days after a Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) bound flight MH192 made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur following a tyre burst. In March a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 had to be diverted to Hong Kong in emergency after it suffered an electric failure on its way to Incheon, South Korea. The incidents have struck blows to the airlines’ safety image.
Meanwhile the search for the wreckage of flight MH370 continues. The Boeing 777 went missing on 8 March. Investigators believe it went down in the Indian Ocean several hundred kilometers off the coast of Western Australia. Families of passengers and crew on board that ill-fated Beijing-bound flight are expected to be issued with death certificates of their loved ones, in a move that could pave the way for potential lawsuits against the airline. Malaysian government officials met distressed relatives on Monday (22 Apr) to discuss ways of providing them with financial assistance.
Share price of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is at its lowest in 12 years. Last week Maybank Investment Bank Research said the airlines’ stock had plunged 16% since the MH370 incident.