AirAsia has reaped benefits handsomely, Mavcom says in defence after Fernandes’ criticism

Mavcom executive chairman Nungsari Radhi said since the commission was established in March 2016, it has undertaken many initiatives which benefit both consumers and industry players. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
Mavcom executive chairman Nungsari Radhi said since the commission was established in March 2016, it has undertaken many initiatives which benefit both consumers and industry players. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 ― The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has defended itself today against claims made by AirAsia Bhd group chief executive Tony Fernandes, who accused it of failing to support the aviation sector.

The commission's executive chairman Nungsari Radhi said since the Mavcom was established in March 2016, it has undertaken many initiatives which benefit both consumers and industry players.

It said one of it is the issuing of over 93 per cent of Air Traffic Rights (ATR) applied by respective airlines from January 2018 to August 2019, in accordance with a transparent process introduced by the commission following consultation with the airlines, including AirAsia.

“AirAsia is a major beneficiary with more than 50 per cent of all ATRs awarded during this period being allocated to them.

“Note that 24 per cent of these ATRs that were granted to AirAsia had subsequently been returned to us as they were unutilised,” Nungsari said in a statement.

He added that Mavcom also introduced a robust licencing application process that ensures only serious, capable and prepared applicants are considered.

“We have even protected the interests of consumers affected by the failure of an airline whose licence was awarded prior to Mavcom’s establishment,” he said.

Nungsari was responding to comments made by Fernandes on LinkedIn, a social media platform for working professionals.

In this latest round of attack on the commission, Fernandes alleged that Mavcom had on many occasions rejected several route applications even though bilateral traffic rights are available with other countries.

 

Fernandes had accused Mavcom for rejecting applications on bilaterally-unrestricted routes, deeming it an unfair practice.

Among other initiatives, Mavcom cited its efforts in ensuring that consumers only paid for services which they have opted for under the commission's Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016.

“We have also eliminated hidden charges such as the KLIA2 fee. Meanwhile, payment processing fees cannot be charged separately from the base fare,” he said.

With regards to consumer complaints, Mavcom said refunds are reimbursed to passengers within 30 days from the date of request. 

“We also introduced an Airports Quality of Service (QoS) to elevate service standards at airports and have been working with the industry and capital markets in implementing the internationally recognised Regulated Asset Base Framework (a methodology for calculating airport charges) in Malaysia among others,” he said.

Apart from these, Mavcom also introduced FlySmart, allowing Malaysians to access information on their rights as travellers through various mediums, including via the FlySmart website and mobile application.

Nungsari added that more information Mavcom and its works are available on it website and press statements issued to date.

He emphasised that the Mavcom team is made up of former employees of airlines including AirAsia, airports, other regulatory bodies, private sector and civil service, aviation professionals, financial analysts, economists and lawyers among others.

“The commission and its employees are duty bound to act within the confines of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 (Act 771), and we intend to ensure industry players similarly respect the laws and regulations of the country ― our recent financial penalties are pursuant to this goal.

“We are aware that we can be subjected to judicial review. As an example, AirAsia had sought leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the commission.

“In that particular case, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had on June 25 this year rejected the said leave application,” said Nungsari.

Among other complaints raised by Fernandes include the RM1 “Regulatory Service Charge” imposed on all passengers flying in and out of airports in Malaysia and the Passenger Service Charges and Departure Levy.

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