AirAsia, MAS win appeal against MyCC fine

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd and Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) have won their appeal against the Malaysia Competition Commission's (MyCC) fine of RM10 million each, in what is the commission's most high profile case since inception.

In delivering the verdict for the appeal yesterday, High Court Justice Hasnah Mohamed Hashim said the five-member Competition Appeal Tribunal panel unanimously agreed to set aside the fine against both airlines.

She said any fines that have been paid shall be refunded. However, spokespersons for both airlines said that no payments were made pending the appeal.

Hasnah said the grounds for the ruling will be explained in a written judgment, which will be released at a later date.

A MyCC spokesperson said the commission will study the judgment and consider its options.

In its proposed decision issued on Sept 6, 2013, MyCC had announced that the companies would be fined up to RM10 million each for infringing Section 4(2)(b) of the Competition Act 2010, by entering into a share-swap agreement in 2011.

Under the share swap agreement, which was entered into on Aug 9, 2011, AirAsia and MAS agreed to work together in the local aviation industry. It was subsequently called off by Khazanah Nasional Bhd in 2012 after eight months.

On April 11, 2014, MyCC found both airlines guilty of anti-competitive practices and slapped a fine of RM10 million each on both airlines.

The financial penalties were based on the turnover earned between Jan 1 and April 30 in 2012 for four routes from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Sibu and Sandakan – operated by Firefly.

According to MyCC, the financial penalties were less than the maximum fine of 10% of the companies' respective worldwide turnovers between January and April 2012, which is the time of the infringement.