Malaysia Airlines tweaks its "Bucket List" sales campaign

KUALA LUMPUR Wed Sep 3, 2014 6:43am EDT

The tail wing of a Malaysia Airlines jet is seen at Kuala Lumpur International Airport July 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Olivia Harris

The tail wing of a Malaysia Airlines jet is seen at Kuala Lumpur International Airport July 25, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris

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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines has changed the wording of an online contest called "My Ultimate Bucket List" after Internet users derided the campaign as insensitive following two disasters suffered by the airline this year that claimed 537 lives.

A bucket list commonly refers to things one wants to do or see before dying.

Nearing six months since the unexplained loss of Flight MH370, the carrier launched the campaign asking Australian and New Zealand customers to describe in 500 words or less, "What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?". The prize for 16 winners was an iPad or return tickets to Malaysia.

Hit by plunging ticket sales after the March 8 disaster and the July 17 shooting down of another passenger jet over Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has slapped discounts on some routes and launched special offers to revive its business.

It has almost doubled its commission payments to Australia-based travel agents to revive sales there, according to Australian media reports.

By Wednesday, the original link to the "Bucket List" contest had been removed from the airline's website. The contest was still being offered, with less fanfare, asking contestants to describe destinations and activities on their "to-do" list.

The carrier confirmed to Reuters that it has "withdrawn the title" of the contest since it was "found to be inappropriate".

"The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase that is used in both countries," MAS said in a statement.

It also added that it did not seek to intentionally offend any parties.

The airline will de-list from the stock exchange this year as it undergoes a government-led restructuring announced last week that includes a 30 percent cut in its workforce.

(Reporting By Trinna Leong; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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