Malaysia Airlines Says Priority Is Families of the Missing, Though Ticket Sales Fall

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Beachgoers walk past a sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 at Puri beach in India March 12, 2014
Beachgoers walk past a sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 at Puri beach in India March 12, 2014

A month after  Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU 0.00% Flight 370 disappeared on a routine flight to Beijing, the company’s chief executive said the mystery over what happened to plane has hurt sales.

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But Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said on Saturday that the airline is still focused on the needs of passengers’ families and is holding off on fully assessing how the crisis is affecting its business for the time being.

“Our primary focus right now is that we do take care of the families in terms of their emotional needs and also their financial needs,” Mr. Ahmad said in an interview. “It’s important that we provide answers for them. It’s important that the world has answers, as well.”

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Mr. Ahmad’s comments were made before a report from the China state news agencyXinhua reported a Chinese ship searching for the missing plane had detected a pulse signal in Southern Indian Ocean that matches the frequency of signals beacons on aircraft black boxes emit. But the terse report said it wasn’t clear if the signal was from the missing plane.

Malaysia Airlines also has to get through the crisis and find some resolution before moving forward, Mr. Ahmad said.

The company is trying to learn lessons from the incident, but it isn’t sure when it can start repairing its image and return to the market to promote itself. The airline will consult with the government and other stakeholders on a decision to return to business as usual, he said.

“We still have an airline to run, we still have tickets to sell, we still have people to fly,” he said. “It has not been easy for us, especially (for) those who lost their friends.”

The Malaysia Airlines chief executive said ticket sales have suffered after Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people on board, most of them Chinese nationals. This is partly due to the airline’s move to suspend advertising promotions in the aftermath of the incident.

Mr. Ahmad wasn’t specific about how much ticket sales have fallen or how the airline’s financial results would be affected.

 

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