From a small air service that began with a 5-seater twin engined Airspeed Consul in 1947, Malaysia Airlines has grown into an award-winning airline with a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, servicing more than 110 destinations across six continents. Today, Malaysian Airlines System Berhad is a corporation with a vision of global expansion. The airline's network will grow extensively in response to consumer demand for worldwide coverage. The airline's enhanced in-flight services, reliable ground support and excellent infrastructure will set new world standards.
Malaysian Airlines System Berhad is the holding company for Malaysia's national airline carrier, one of Asia's fastest growing airlines. Through several other subsidiaries, the company manufactures aircraft parts, offers trucking and cargo transportation services, caters food, provides laundry and dry-cleaning services for airlines and other industrial institutions, and oversees a travel agency. Company Chairman Tajudin Ramli owns a significant share in Malaysian Airlines System (MAS), and the Malaysian government retains a strong voice in MAS affairs. 1930s Origins
The history of Malaysian Airlines dates back to 1937, when the Straits Steamship Co. of Singapore joined forces with two British companies--Ocean Steamship Co. and Imperial Airways--and won approval from Singapore's government to operate an airline in the region. Malayan Airways Limited was registered on October 21, 1937. Getting clearance and getting planes in the air, however, proved to be two different things for Malayan Airways Ltd. Operations did not begin until 1947, well after the Japanese occupation had come to an end, when a twin-engined Airspeed Consul lifted off from Subang International Airport in Kuala Lumpur, linking that city with Singapore, Ipoh, and Penang in the north of the country. In 1947 the fledgling airline added a 21-seater DC-3 to its fleet of three Airspeed Consuls. By the end of the year the airline was flying to Jakarta (then called Batavia), Palembang, Bangkok, Medan, and Saigon (later called Ho Chi Minh City). Jointly controlled by the intercontinental carriers BOAC and Qantas, Malayan Airways was for a time run by Keith Hamilton, who would later become head of Qantas. 1960s Independence
Following Malaysia's political establishment in September 1963--the new country comprised the former states of Malaya and Singapore, and the one-time colonies of North Borneo, Sabah, and Sarawak--Malayan Airways became Malaysian Airways and was reorganized to focus on connecting the new country's disparate regions. Expansion brought more aircraft into the fleet after Borneo Airways was purchased and folded into Malaysian Airways in 1965. This brought four Dakota jets and two Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer aircraft to the carrier's stable of aircraft. More organizational changes for the airline occurred in 1966, a year after Singapore seceded from Malaysia to become a sovereign state on its own. That year, the governments of Singapore and Malaysia jointly bought a controlling stake in the airline and renamed it Malaysia-Singapore Airlines Ltd.(MSA). Powerful Boeing jets then entered the fleet and enabled flights to reach a number of far-flung Asian destinations. However, differences between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore over the future direction of MSA prompted a split in 1972. Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister of Singapore, desired a truly national carrier for his country, the aim being to fly a small fleet of Boeing 707s displaying the yellow and blue colors of Singapore Airlines. Malaysia likewise chose to go its own way. In October 1972, Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS) was established. (The acronym MAS means gold in the Malaysian language.) Each of its aircraft would henceforth sport a winged tiger logo, a stylized form of the traditional Kelantan "wau" or Malaysian kite. The split was crucial to the future fortunes of MAS. From 1972, the...
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