Passengers walk past a signboard of Malaysia Airlines at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday. Pic: AP.

After losing almost 18% of their value in early trading, Malaysia Airlines shares rallied in afternoon trading to close down 4pc at 23 sen per share (US$0.07). Monday morning’s dramatic losses came as trading resumed after news broke early Saturday that the airline lost contact with flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

An international search for the missing plane, which was carrying 239 passengers, has so far been unsuccessful.

(LIVE: Search continues for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370)

In February, Malaysia Airlines announced a net loss of 343.3 million Malaysian Ringgit (US$104.23 million) for the October-December 2013 period, its fourth consecutive quarterly loss. The airline has been facing competition from low-cost carrier AirAsia on short-haul and domestic segments, and from AirAsia X in the medium and long-haul market. Unstable exchange rates and high fuel prices were also blamed by MAS justifying its losses in November.

Malaysia Airlines shares stock for March 10th 2014 and for the year 2013

Malaysia Airlines’ reputation could be further damaged by the disappearance of flight MH370 early Saturday, with some analysts predicting that tine incident could slow its recovery segnificantly. In 2013, MA suffered a loss of 1.17 billion ringgit and its next earnings announcement is scheduled for  May 29, 2014.

Before the incident, MA was waiting for government approval for a fleet replacement operation for 2014. The move would enable the airline to replace its 14-years-old Boeing 777s with newer planes with lower fuel costs and bigger capacity.