Transport Ministry bids to mediate MAHB-AirAsia row

Loke asked MAHB and AirAsia to scale back on hostilities and said he will host a face-to-face negotiation between both parties. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Loke asked MAHB and AirAsia to scale back on hostilities and said he will host a face-to-face negotiation between both parties. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

SEPANG, Dec 13 — The Transport Ministry will intervene in the commercial dispute between low-cost carrier AirAsia Group Bhd and Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB) involving RM36.11 million in unpaid airport taxes.

Minister Anthony Loke asked both to scale back on hostilities and said he will host a face-to-face negotiation between the airline and airport operator.

“We acknowledge there is an issue, and whatever it is that has arisen, I will be mediating in hopes for a harmonious result,” Loke said during the launch of senior citizen and family-friendly amenities at the klia2 Airport.

He added that the issue could be resolved swiftly, amicably, and without the current rancour.

The Edge Malaysia Weekly reported on Dec 3 that MAHB had sent legal letters to both AirAsia and its long-haul unit, AirAsia X Bhd (AAX), sometime in mid-October to demand payment of outstanding airport taxes or passenger service charges (PSC) for international departures since July 1.

AirAsia has accrued around RM9.4 million in unpaid PSC while AAX was hit with a lawsuit seeking RM26.72 million for similar arrears.

Both organisations said they will vigorously defend against the lawsuits seeking payment for charges they deemed to be unjustified and unreasonable.

On the ongoing dispute with Singapore over the republic's plan to implement an Instrument Landing System (ILS) for its Seletar Airport, the minister said he did not wish to make additional public statements on the matter.

“I think enough has been said about the issue, and we have explained that.

“Let both sides (countries) sit down and negotiate further. We have agreed to meet in mid-January,” he said, adding that any technical considerations will be left to the experts from Malaysia and Singapore to track out. 

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