KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's loss-making flag carrier, Malaysian Airline System Bhd, plans to spend 600 million ringgit ($268.14 million) to lay off about 6,000 staff, or a quarter of its workforce, a local newspaper said today.

The redundancy scheme would be the biggest one of its kind in Malaysian history, the Star daily said.

An airline spokesman said he could not comment on the report but that journalists would be briefed on the scheme soon.

"It is learnt that it would cost the airline about 600 million ringgit, which the airline would fund from its coffers," the newspaper said.

Each worker would get one to three months' salary for every year of service, with no cap on the number of years, it added.

State-controlled Malaysia Airlines is trying to overcome a crisis brought about by stiff competition, lower fares, rising fuel prices and its traditional role as a full-service carrier with a big and unprofitable route network.

After reporting widening third-quarter losses in February, the airline moved to raise a US$1.1 billion cash-lifeline, increased local fares for the first time in 13 years and reconfigured its domestic route network.

Having since changed to calendar-year accounting, the airline is due to report its first-quarter results on May 29. For calendar 2006, it expects to bring net losses down to 620 million ringgit before breaking even in 2007.

- REUTERS