March 13, 2020 / 9:20 AM / 21 days ago

Malaysia Airlines asks staff to volunteer for unpaid leave

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines has given its staff the option of taking voluntary unpaid leave of five days per month for at least three months as its business takes a hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is in line with (the) reduced operations following a capacity management exercise due to COVID-19,” the national carrier’s owner, Malaysia Aviation Group, said in a statement.

More than 134,500 people have been infected globally by the coronavirus and over 4,900 have died, according to a Reuters tally of government announcements.

Malaysia Airlines has cancelled more than 2,000 flights up to April due to travel restrictions imposed by countries within its network. (For a factbox on how major airlines are coping with the spreading of the virus, see)

Regarding the unpaid leave, its staff have the option of taking the leave days over one to three months from April.

In a separate statement, Malaysia Airlines also offered passengers free and unlimited changes to flight dates for travel until the end of the year.

The airline has been struggling financially and Khazanah Nasional, owner of Malaysia Aviation Group, has been looking for a strategic partner for it.

Malaysia Aviation Group also includes budget airline Firefly.

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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