Mavcom to probe AirAsia over allegations of profiteering

Lawmakers have expressed concerns over sudden hikes in selected domestic routes by AirAsia

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By  MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) will investigate AirAsia Bhd for allegations of profiteering during peak travel periods.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi said the commission has been instructed to investigate allegations that the low-cost carrier had hiked air fares and was taking advantage of peak travel seasons, such as festivities and the school holidays period.

“I have discussed with Mavcom to probe potential profiteering of AirAsia for taking advantage of peak hours (travel period) as this is against the economics of the lower-and middle-income Malaysians,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Ab Aziz said this while winding up committee stage debates on the Transport Ministry’s proposed allocation for Budget 2018.

He said airline passengers are protected by the consumer protection mechanism out- lined under Section 17 of the Mavcom Act 2015.

He said Mavcom is empowered to promote an environment that allows consumers to enjoy transparent choices of products and services that are of high quality and at a fair price.

Ab Aziz added that an amendment to the Act is being drafted to further protect consumers.

Among the charges that are expected to be waived following the proposed amendments include the use of wheelchairs, credit cards and administration fees.

During the debates, law-makers had expressed concerns over sudden hikes in selected domestic routes by AirAsia which they claimed ran contrary to the rising cost of living.

The airline was also criticised over allegations of rigid operation including in relation to cancellation and additional surcharges.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin said AirAsia should be more flexible to its passengers, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said most of AirAsia’s passengers departed from rural routes in Sabah and Sarawak that are price sensitive, and the airline has the social obligations to serve such people.

“AirAsia should learn from various European airlines which take good care of the passengers’ welfare.

“I am surprised how AirAsia can receive the best global airline award consecutively, because if I would have to rate them, I will only give them a zero,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lenggong MP Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah had called on AirAsia to be more socially responsible.

“They should do more corporate social responsibility to understand what it takes for a rural citizen to purchase a flight ticket,” he said.