Sale of Malaysia Airlines: What a national carrier means to a country’s brand building

In many countries globally, national carriers are a pride and joy of  a country’s national identity and act as a brand representative on a global scale. This is no different in Malaysia where despite the recent challenges faced by MAB, its brand health among Malaysians still remains high with a score of +32.3.

But currently, the future of MAB remains in limbo as the government is reportedly studying options such as refinancing or selling off the airline.  This comes as MAB continues its attempts to transform the business and return to profitability this year. As such, citizens might have to grapple with the fact that the country will potentially lose a national icon on the global stage.

As a national airline is “inextricably linked” to a country’s destination brand as well as its inbound tourism product, not having one might nudge the nation off the radar of global consciousness, Dominic Mason, Southeast Asia managing director of Sedgwick Richardson said.

The importance of a national airline is often seen in joint marketing campaigns, partnerships, promotions and content. Without a carrier to fly a nation’s flag, Mason said it becomes slightly harder to recall what the nation stands for and less easy for consumers to travel to and around the country’s destinations. He added:

A national airline brand epitomises what a nation stands for. It projects the host destination to the world, it symbolises its culture.

Logos aside, he said that a national airline brand should encapsulate the experience of its nation in the hours that travellers are on board. From the condition of the aircraft, the personal service that’s delivered, the interior design of the cabin, the uniforms of the crew, the menu selection and the meal service, the in-flight entertainment, the duty free range of products, and to some, even the in-flight announcements, these should all be telling a seamless story about the host nation.

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