AS a frequent flyer of Malaysia Airlines, I have observed that effective Oct 1, there are fewer flight attendants in the Boeing 737 series MAS aircraft. What used to be six flight attendants on a Boeing 737 aircraft, which has a seating capacity of 144 for Economy Class and 16 for Business Class, were reduced to five, and it has gone down to four crew members.

Apparently, this is the result of Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s cost-cutting measures as part of the airline’s rationalisation programme. The first phase of restructuring exercise last year saw the airline downsizing its manpower by cutting a third or 6,000 jobs. In addition, there were network cuts.

What concerns me is the safety and comfort of the passengers. Of the four flight attendants, two serve the Business Class while the other two are in the Economy Class. At the same time, if the pilot or first officer needs to go out from the cockpit to take a toilet break, for instance, one of the cabin crew has to be in the cockpit.

This is in line with the international aviation regulation that requires two persons to be in the cockpit at all times. As the cabin crew has to comply with the international aviation regulations regarding the cockpit, it will be challenging for four of them to manage everything during the flight, including providing quality and efficient service, as well as ensuring passenger safety. Flight attendants have an important role in ensuring the safety and welfare of passengers. They have to inspect safety equipment, check security, make sure passengers are seated correctly, give the safety presentation, indicate emergency exits with clear obstruction, stow hand baggage safely, secure galleys and work fields, as well as observe passenger reactions.

In case of emergencies, cabin crew members have to ensure passengers follow emergency procedures. They may have to deal with emergencies, such as cabin fires or first-aid situations. The airline has to go the extra mile to raise customer confidence by making passengers comfortable flying with them. Malaysia Airlines should review the number of cabin attendants and raise it back to at least five crew for Boeing 737 flights.

We do not want to see the quality of service and safety affected by a smaller number of cabin crew. Malaysia Airlines’ flight attendants have received accolades for their excellent services and despite the challenges faced by the airline company, the crew members never falter in their responsibilities. They are committed to their work despite drawbacks like removal of privileges and perks they had before, such as transport facilities and allowances. Many of them are working cheerfully despite their predicament due to their love for their profession and commitment to the national carrier.

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