Australians are the most reluctant to come back to Malaysia Airways

French gendarmes and police inspect the flaperon, believed to be from MH370, that washed ashore on Reunion Island. Photo: Reuters

Australians are some of the hardest customers in the world to convince that Malaysia Airlines has left its safety problems in the past, Malaysia Airlines’ new chief executive concedes. In his first public outing since part of a wing believed to be from Flight MH370 was found on a remote island in the Indian Ocean last Wednesday, Christoph Mueller said Australia, Britain and China were three markets in which there had been “significant repercussions” for the airline from the disappearance of the Boeing 777 in March last year and the shooting down of another Malaysia Airlines flight, MH17 over Ukraine, four months later. “In Australia it’s easy to explain with all good intentions but every mentioning of the search for 370 correlates with our demand,” he told Fairfax Media. “Our demand does not correlate with price any longer but mentioning on social media – it’s very adverse. It is very regrettable but it’s a fact.”

It highlights the challenge ahead for Mr Mueller, a German who earned the nickname “The Terminator” during his time at Ireland’s flag carrier Aer Lingus, in reshaping what he has described as a “technically bankrupt” airline. Since taking the reins in May, he has ditched routes, begun cutting 6000 jobs from its 20,000-strong workforce and next month is set to unveil a new brand.

Mr Mueller would not be drawn on the discovery on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean last week of a flaperon believed to be from MH370, saying he would not “participate in any speculation” about the search for the plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians. “There are investigators currently busy in all different parts of the world – I leave it to them to draw conclusions,” he said in Sydney on Monday.
Malaysian authorities have confirmed the flaperon was from a Boeing 777. The wreckage was under forensic examination in Toulouse in southern France to determine whether it was from MH370