Malaysia was award-winning airline before losing planes

The apparent crash Thursday of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is the second major tragedy this year for the airline, which is still searching for Flight 370 that vanished March 8.

The country's national carrier flies about 37,000 passengers aboard 250 departures daily to 80 destinations, according to the company's website.

It boarded 13 million passengers in 2011, generating revenues of about $4.5 billion, according to the website. That revenue compares with a smaller airline in the U.S. such as JetBlue Airways for the same year.

The plane that crashed, a Boeing 777-200, is a similar model to the one that disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The search for that flight has focused on the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles west of Australia, based on intermittent signals that a satellite picked up.

Malaysia Airlines' fleet of 88 aircraft includes Boeing 747-400, 777-200ER, 737-800 and 737-400, as well as Airbus A330-300, A330-200 and its flagship A380-800.

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The airline considered the July 2012 launch of its A380 service from Kuala Lumpur and London Heathrow a major milestone in a history that began with its incorporation as Malayan Airways Limited (MAL) on Oct. 12, 1937.

The airline has won numerous awards from industry groups Skytrax UK and the World Travel Awards for the quality of its cabin crews, food and general excellence. World Travel Awards called it the best airline in Asia in 2013.

Service began between Penang and Singapore, and Malayan Airways had its first commercial flight as a national airline on April 2, 1947, according to the company's website. In less than a decade, the airline began international flights.

The airline changed its name to Malaysian Airlines Limited with the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Two years later, with the separation of Singapore, the airline between a bi-national airline, Malaysia-Singapore Airlines. That partnership ended in 1972 and the airline later was renamed Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia Airlines became a full member of the oneworld alliance in February 2013 and is now connected to 850 destinations through that network.

The airline's last crash was Sept. 15, 1995, when a Fokker 50 crashed and killed 34 people out of 53 onboard, according to a summary at the Flight Safety Foundation.

The investigation found the plane touched down 500 meters short of the runway, probably due to the pilot's poor decision-making and failure to follow standard procedures, according to the foundation's summary.

Other factors were the co-pilot's failure to alert the captain to unsafe maneuvers and the controller's failure to provide better assistance, according to the summary.


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