PUTRAJAYA, Nov 18 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke today announced a special task force to help the Civil Aviation Authority Malaysia (CAAM) regain its Category 1 status after the local regulator was downgraded by the US last week.

The task force is led by Datuk Kok Soo Chon, a former director-general back when the CAAM was known as the Department of Civil Aviation, on a pro bono basis.

“Datuk Kok said he will head the task force on condition he does not get paid a sen.

“That’s his patriotic nature and willingness to help our aviation industry to recover from the FAA’s assessment of putting us down into Category 2 from Category 1,” Loke told a press conference at the CAAM headquarters here.

The task force will comprise four pilots, three engineers and one technical director.

Three out of eight task force members will be international aviation experts.

Loke also said the CAAM will review all current fees and charges with an eye on raising revenue and eventually becoming financially independent from the government.

“CAAM currently operate on an RM350 million budget and their revenue is around RM120 million a year.

“Besides that, we have not reviewed our overfly charges and one of the main sources of revenue for any civil aviation authority in any country is overfly charges or ANFC (air navigation flight charges).

“Since 2006, it’s never been reviewed so we’re looking at rectifying these charges to increase revenue.”

Loke’s reason for wanting the CAAM to increase revenue was partly due to the FAA’s findings that Malaysia’s remuneration packages were not attractive enough to attract top aviation talent.

He said since CAAM is partly reliant on government funds, the pay packages are similar to the civil service salary scale.

“We are trying to rectify all 33 FAA findings and we must get this rectified within 12 months,” said Loke.

“For now, we cannot retain the best pilots due to the remuneration packages.

“Once we have rectified these findings, we will ask the FAA to review our status.”

Loke said they will notify relevant airlines of the increased ANFC charges soon.

He also said he will hold a separate press conference in early December where he will provide further details on the increased cost and charges.