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Cash-strapped Malaysian budget airline abruptly halts operations

A Malaysian budget airline, MYAirline, abruptly suspended operations due to financial pressures, stranding passengers and citing the need for restructuring and recapitalization. The move revealed market overcapacity and regulatory oversight failures.

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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — A start-up Malaysian budget airline abruptly suspended operations on Thursday citing financial pressures, less than a year after it began flying, stranding dozens of passengers.

MYAirline, which services mostly domestic routes with nine aircraft, said on social media that operations would be halted “until further notice” and apologised for the “extremely painful decision”.

“We have worked tirelessly to explore various partnership and capital raising options to prevent this suspension,” the carrier’s board of directors said.

“Unfortunately, the constraints of time have left us with no alternative but to take this decision.”

The carrier said the suspension will allow for a “shareholder restructuring and recapitalisation” to be worked out but gave no timeline when flights will resume.

The airline began flights in December to domestic routes and the Thai capital Bangkok.

Dozens of passengers were stranded at the budget carrier terminal in Kuala Lumpur following the announcement early Thursday, initially on Facebook and then on other social media.

“Please don’t do this to people,” one stranded passenger said on X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter.

She said all airline counters were closed and no employee was there to help.

“Passengers are all waiting like idiots,” she wrote.

Shukor Yusof, an analyst with aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said the plight of MYAirlines showed there was an “overcapacity” in the Malaysian market, which already has three established carriers.

“There’s no room for start-ups,” he told AFP.

It also highlights a “failure” by Malaysian regulators to monitor the financial health of local airlines and the effect of a strong US dollar against the ringgit, which made jet fuel more expensive, Shukor said.

— AFP

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