BAR’s comments ‘inconsequential and self-serving’: AirAsia

25 Jul 2019 / 18:57 H.

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Group has dismissed as “inconsequential and self-serving” the comments made by Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) on the carrier’s ongoing dispute with airport operator, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

Its chief executive officer Riad Asmat said that BAR’s views are skewed towards protecting full-service carriers’ commercial interests, while ignoring various issues faced by low-cost carriers (LCCs) in Malaysia.

In the statement today, Riad said BAR, which is currently led by a representative of MAHB, has no standing on this issue as none of their member airlines operate from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) thus were not affected by the court decision and rendering their comments inconsequential and immaterial.

“We do not believe that BAR is capable of making positive contributions or comments as they do not represent budget airlines or those who travel on budget airlines,“ he said.

On Wednesday, BAR welcomed the High Court’s decision to dismiss an application by AirAsia and AirAsia X Berhad to strike out suits by the airport operator over payment of outstanding airport tax, saying it was glad that the equalisation of passenger service charges (PSC) was “finally happening” after so long.

The High Court ruled last week that AirAsia and AirAsia X must pay RM40.6 million in outstanding PSC – which the two airlines had refused to collect from passengers - to MAHB’s subsidiary Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd (MASSB).

AirAsia Group is appealing the decision.

Riad said that there was a misconception that AirAsia has defaulted in paying the amount claimed by MAHB.

“It must be stressed that AirAsia did not collect these monies from passengers as we believe they should not be burdened into unfairly paying for an inferior service as they would for the more well-equipped and spacious KLIA,“ he said.

“Instead MAHB sued AirAsia to recover this uncollected amount,“ he said.

BAR had alleged in a statement that AirAsia’s refusal to collect the extra-imposed PSC charges from passengers “had led to an uneven playing field.”

MAHB CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin also welcomed the court decision, saying it meant MAHB could collect the PSC amount gazetted by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom).

“It is uncanny that the comments by Raja Azmi and BAR were similar, as far as AirAsia is concerned, their comments are based on proprietary interests and not in the interests of the travelling public.” Riad said.

“In the name of fair competition as frequently propagated by Raja Azmi, MAHB should seriously consider building a dedicated and functional low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) which charges lower rates like in Jakarta and Tokyo, among others. This will provide the much needed boost for the local aviation industry and position Kuala Lumpur as a key aviation hub,“ he said.

“In comparison of the KLIA main terminal which caters mainly to BAR’s full-service member carriers, only 28.1 million passengers passed through its gates in 2018 and according to MAHB passenger traffic data, 97% (30.91 million) passengers were carried by AirAsia Group,“ it said in a statement.

Based on a statement, MAHB which claimed imposing extra PSC because this has been mandated by Mavcom, itself funded by travelling passengers who each pay RM1 which goes towards sustaining its operations reported a massive 202.6% jump in net profit for 2018 to RM727.3 million from the previous year.

“We maintain that a considerable portion of MAHB’s revenue and profit is contributed by air passengers through the PSC, which AirAsia has diligently collected and remitted to MAHB in full according to payment terms as agreed by both parties. That is why we have refused to burden our passengers by collecting the extra RM23 for use of an inferior airport at klia2 compared to the more luxurious and better equipped KLIA which houses BAR representatives and their airlines,“ Riad said.

“They should look at the larger picture of growing Malaysia’s aviation industry and tourism sector, as espoused by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, rather than harp on their own narrow selfish interests,“ he said.

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