Malaysia Airlines, as the national flag-carrier, reached an “out-of-court” settlement of the first legal claim by the family of a gentleman, who was a passenger on flight MH370, a lawyer handling the claim said to the French press service, AFP, on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.
Jee Jing Hang, an online web-based business owner, was one of 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew aboard the Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRO, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, when it suddenly and mysteriously vanished from radar early morning on March 8, 2014.
So far, not a trace of wreckage or debris has been discovered from the Boeing 777-200ER airliner, missing for nearly 15 months on June 8, 2015.
In October 2014, Mr Hang’s family brought a lawsuit, benefitting his two living sons, aged 11 and 14 when the lawsuit was filed, against Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government, including its Department of Civil Aviation and Department of Immigration, and the Royal Malaysia Air Force Chief, agencies altogether involved in investigating the missing MH370 flight. The premise of the plaintiff’s lawsuit argued “for negligence and breach of contract,” against the air carrier, as it “failed to bring its passengers to its destination,” according to AFP.
“The court was informed that all the parties in the suit had come to an amicable settlement,” Gary Edward Chong, a lawyer for Mr Hang’s family told AFP, of which “terms of the settlement could not be disclosed.”
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was officially declared on Thursday, January 29, 2015, an accident and all lives presumed lost on the southern Indian Ocean floor, authorities said, after history’s largest and costliest oceanic airliner search for nearly eleven months as of Monday, February 9, 2015. Officially, this cleared the way for Malaysia Airlines to pay compensation to victims’ relatives, while the search for the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner continues, reports Reuters.
“We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident … and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement.
“The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said the Malaysian DCA director-general. “It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation,” he said.
The plaintiffs lawyer, Arunan Selvaraj, representing Mr. Hang’s two sons in the lawsuit, conveyed to reporters in Kuala Lumpur, “the decision was made in chambers after Judge Datuk Rosnani Saub spoke with the boys’ mother today,” MalayMail Online reports.
“The matter has been settled; as you’ve read, MH370 had disappeared in a mysterious way, but in January the authorities have declared it an accident and also the authorities have assured the next-of-kin that they would be compensated fairly.”
“Our client, having considered her rights and legal position, has decided to accept the court compensation and move on with her life,” Arunan Selvaraj said referring to the mother of the teenage boys whose beneficiary interests are of primary concern in the lawsuit.
“The court also decided that the plaintiffs will not have the liberty to file fresh action on the same matter,” he added.
Malaysian lawyer, Mr N. Surendran, told AFP that the “out-of-court” settlement could “trigger other affected family members to pursue similar legal actions.”
Malaysia Airlines is now “technically bankrupt.”
Malaysia Airlines is now “technically bankrupt”, the newly appointed chief executive of the flag-carrier, Christoph Mueller, told reporters in his first news conference on Monday, June 1, 2015, adding the air carrier’s decline “started long before the tragic events of 2014,” as he announced a restructuring program and plans to cut about 6,000 jobs, BBC News confirms.
Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive Officer of Malaysian Airline System Berhad (MAS) and CEO-designate of the new airline, Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB), and formerly CEO (and previous to that Chief Operating Officer) of Aer Lingus, steered the Irish air carrier with a sound business strategy through market surges from competition, emerging with consistent profits.
Industry experts believe Mueller, who has a history of dramatic turnarounds as an airlines chief, can do the same sort of profitable restructuring for Malaysia Airlines in the aftermath of the MH370 aviation tragedy on March 8, 2014 and the MH17 aviation disaster on July 17, 2014, killing 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia airlines crew aboard the Boeing 777-200ER en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Mueller, who has held executive management posts also at Belgium’s Sabena and Germany’s Lufthansa airlines, is known for slashing jobs to cut costs, reduce cash burn rates, and eliminate losses inside these Belgium and German air carriers, garnering the nickname “The Terminator”, BBC News reports.
“Analysts have long blamed the airline’s failure to compete on poor management, unwise business decisions, government meddling, and unfavorable service and supplier contracts stemming from Malaysia’s crony capitalism,” according to ABC News.
Mueller did not say whether any rebranding of the flag-carrier would involve a change in name, logo or other alterations, or whether costly long-haul flights to Europe (excluding the air carrier’s flagship London flights) would be either eliminated or reduced in frequency of departures or “size of aircraft on those routes.”
The flag-carrier’s restructuring program and plans for building cash flows and increasing profitability will invoke various tools of alternative contracting, such as joint ventures, strategic alliances, and partnerships.
“The blueprint called for the renegotiating or resetting of major contracts, and a major revitalization of technology, training, and business operations,” ABC News reports.
“Mr Mueller warned last month a major overhaul was necessary as the airline was weighed down by “uncompetitive cost levels” that he said were 20 per cent higher than its rivals,” according to ABC News.
The Malaysian national air carrier said in a statement its immediate priority was to “stop the bleeding” in 2015, then to stabilize next year and start growing again by 2017.
Finding MH370 could take up to a year as search area is extended.
The search for flight MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER in the 60,000 square kilometers priority search area in the remote mountainous southern Indian Ocean floor, off the western coast of Australia at Perth, is expected to continue through the summer.
Meanwhile, ministers from Australian, Malaysian and Chinese met in April 2015 to discuss progress of the search for MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER airliner. The ministers learned that investigators looking for missing airliner have said “the search area could be doubled in size if the present exploration fails to locate the plane,” Breaking Travel News reports.
If no wreckage or debris from the aircraft is found, the current 60,000 square kilometer priority search area (sixty percent of which has already been searched using sophisticated sonar equipment and Fugro deep sea search vessels) will be extended by another 60,000 square kilometers to “cover the entire highest probability area identified by expert analysis.”
“A statement added the additional search area could take up to a year to complete given adverse weather conditions in the upcoming winter months,” according to Breaking Travel News.
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