For years, Air Mauritius was one of the most admired companies in the whole country. In 2009, Air Mauritius is suffocating. Analysts predict that, for the 2008-2009 financial year, Air Mauritius will declare losses of around Rs 1,000,000,000 after having made a profit of Rs 675 million during the previous financial year.
Where did it go wrong?
- Reason #1 is the hedging contract for kerosene negotiated by Air Mauritius until August 2010. This means that the company will suffer massive losses in 2009-2010 too. No wonder the Chairman of the Board as well as the financial manager have resigned… and others might follow.
- Reason #2 is the worldwide recession. People are travelling less now because they do not want to spend their hard-earned cash on something which is not essential. I was talking to a friend yesterday who was telling me that Air Mauritius airplanes are routinely half-full (or half-empty depending on your mindset.)
- Reason #3 is that the Air Mauritius service is, ahem, crap. When travelling from Malaysia in 2007, we had to endure an airplane which smelled of piss. No wonder people prefer Emirates. [I don’t want to be mean but I also have to say that, given the large number of beautiful girls in Mauritius, I don’t understand why so many Air Mauritius air hostesses are so ugly. Maybe this is a consequence of Reason #5.]
- Reason #4 is the fact that Air Mauritius wastes too much money on trivialities: huge catering bills, reduced price and even free air tickets to all personnel, etc. In fact, I’m sure a lot of people perceive Air Mauritius as THE place to work if you love to brag. It is THE bragging company par excellence.
- Reason #5 is the fact that a large number of the employees recruited every year are (i) political agents or (ii) family members of prominent political agents or politicians. This has been the rule for years now as far as I know. This implies that a substantial proportion of the workforce might not have the required aptitudes to do their job properly. [This is not specific to Air Mauritius. We all know that.]
One way forward is for Air Mauritius to stop being THE bragging company. Air Mauritius should become humble and realise that it is a tiny airline with substandard service and should do its best to enhance its products. Of course, this means that the top brass there should stop believing they are demi-gods and start working instead (and they should also take a pay cut.) Last but not least, the Air Mauritius trade unions leaders should be intellectually honest enough to say that some employees are not contributing anything to the company and should be fired… without golden parachutes.
Will that happen? I have some doubts.