Sunday, September 7, 2014

Those Top Ostriches at MAS...

You don't need to be a Michael Porter or Henry Mintzberg or one of those McKinsey MBAs to tell you why MAS is in such a bad shape!

I travel on MAS between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur virtually every month. I can see the continual deterioration of its service. I pity the cabin crew; they are a very nice lot. Unfortunately, the weaknesses  of their management have turned them into a bunch of apologists - for no fault of theirs.

A case in point is my Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur flight on MH148 recently. I chose Baramundi for my main course only to be told by the steward that they had run out of this choice.

How could they run out of choices when they were charging me more than four times the economy fare for my business ticket?

I insisted and somehow they did produce my choice. The inflight supervisor was most apologetic; I simply told him that I was not trying to be difficult. I just wanted him to register my complaint with his management or those who are operating from their ivory tower.

When it was ice-cream time, I reminded them the stuff they offered used to be handed out to me when I was travelling economy, which I still often do. They agreed whole-heartedly.

Please don't get me wrong. I was not trying to be snobbish. I was just trying to say that those in the ivory tower of MAS do not know how to run a business!

Product consistency is something that is in short supply in MAS. Take this particular flight I am referring to. Not a single copy of its Temptation magazine (for in-flight shopping) could be found. Why? This is not the first time I noticed this oversight. It happened in a similar flight a few years ago. It was an Airbus 330, if I could remember correctly. The excuse: Oh; it was new. I suspected it was because they had forgotten to go through the checklist. (I promptly wrote to Ahmad Jauhari [who else?] and guess what? There was no response!)

And look at the audio-video control in the picture shown. The Boeing 777-200 could not be a new plane; but the cabin looked new. It must have been refurnished recently. But its system was a dinosaur! What happened, MAS? Why are you paying for obsolescence?

I am also a frequent flyer on Singapore Airlines. They know where the profit is. It is in the business class! They spare no effort in pampering these customers of theirs. And not surprisingly, their business class is usually full. No wonder they are laughing all the way to the bank and MAS is forever begging for bail-outs by the government.

I suppose you don't really need to be good to be a CEO in Malaysia's GLCs; what is paramount is that you must have the necessary "know-who". MH17 was bad luck, but certainly not MH370. It was a management failure traceable all the way to the CEO!

I just finished a book called Execution – the Discipline of Getting Things Done – by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. The whole book boils down to this: The failure is the enterprise is directly attributable to the CEO. Why waste another M$6 billion restructuring MAS? All you need is a good CEO and there are plenty in Malaysia!

Before I forget, just a couple of days ago, I tried to redeem my frequent flyer points with MAS. Its online system on it Enrich programme doesn’t work on iPAD, when everybody else’s can.  Luckily I still have my laptop. I clicked Enrich; it led me to nowhere. I finally figured out how to access. But I just couldn’t do my redemption on-line after many trials. The explanation given on-line was totally mickey-mousy. I made a call to its call centre from Melbourne. The girl was totally helpless; she also did not know why things couldn’t work from her end either. I asked if her supervisor could call back, since there was not point my waiting on the line to see her performing a miracle. An hour or so later, I tried to call again. I kept hearing “You will be attended shortly” but that "shortly" never came; I hanged up. Two hours or so later, a lady from MAS called; she confirmed that their system was faulty. She had also got my wife tickets finalised. MAS’s computers were not talking to one another. Is that the staff’s fault? NO, many of them are actually very good. The problems lie with those ostriches at the top! These people up there never had to make a booking themselves.

I can write volumes on MAS's shortcomings.

My wife says I am always complaining. Why not, when I have hardly any choice besides MAS?

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