Ensure airport quality first, Firefly tells Mavcom

Mavcom needs to ensure airport facilities are synchronised with the charges imposed, says Fire y CEO

By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) should ensure that airport quality and standards are maintained, to commensurate with the airport tax that is charged to each air traveller.

In making the call, Firefly Airlines CEO Ignatius Ong said Mavcom should also guarantee the level of services at airports nationwide and give airline passengers value for their money.

“Mavcom should ensure airport facilities are synchronised with the charges that passengers have to pay,” Ong told a media briefing yesterday, responding to Mavcom’s plan to standardise passenger service charge (PSC) in all airports nationwide.

Beginning January 2018, Mavcom expects to charge domestic travellers RM11, RM35 for Asean passengers and RM73 for those flying international routes.

Currently, low-cost airport Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) is given an exception to charge RM50 in airport tax for international passengers. However, the charge is expected to be raised to RM73 come Jan 1.

Ong said facilities in some airports, especially the lavatories, have not been well maintained, while some are even closed.

This reflects poorly on the airlines, as most customers assume that the airports are managed by the airlines, he added.

“Most of our customers even write back to us about the poor conditions of the toilets, and some on the air-conditioning levels.

“Since we don’t manage the airports, we would always channel the complaints to the relevant parties,” he said.

He also said Firefly is of the opinion that the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor, which the airline primarily operates from, should not be charged the same PSC as in KLIA or KLIA2.

“In Subang, we don’t have walkalators and aerobridges. Thus, I believe that we should not be charged as much as KLIA or KLIA2,” Ong said.

He said that discussions had taken place with Mavcom and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd on these matters.

Meanwhile, Firefly is confident of outperforming its 2017 passengers target of 1.5 million, after carrying over 800,000 passengers up to July 2017.

Ong said that with the attractive deals packaged in Firefly air fare, more air travellers would choose the airline over its other competitor — Malindo Airways — which also operates turboprop aircraft from Subang.

“Our target is 1.5 million and I think it is a conservative target. I am sure we can hit up to 1.7 million passengers this year,” he said.

Among new packages introduced by Firefly Sdn Bhd include the partnership with

AIG Malaysia Insurance Bhd to provide free basic travel insurance for each air tickets.

Firefly has rolled out the Firefly Travel Protection (Basic) for free, with each passenger protected for free up to RM15,000 for medical expenses and RM1,000 for trip cancellations.

Passengers can also opt to upgrade the insurance protection, to include five-times greater coverage including for baggage damage, loss of travel documents and flight delay.

Ong said Firefly would be the first airline in Malaysia, if not in the world, to offer free travel insurance to its passengers.

“It is not really about cost, but to educate Malaysians and air travellers, at large on the importance of travel insurance,” he said.