Mavcom, AirAsia caught in a tangle over Fernandes’ claims

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) and AirAsia Bhd have found themselves in a tangle over claims made by AirAsia Group Bhd group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes that he was ordered to cancel 120 extra flights during the 14th General Election.

In a statement yesterday, Mavcom strongly refuted Fernandes’ allegation, describing it as “baseless and malicious”.

The commission has also lodged a police report over the matter.

“The commission categorically refutes that any AirAsia staff summoned at all material times (between April 17 and May 13, 2018) to appear before the commission regarding this matter,” Mavcom said.

“On April 19, 2018, and April 20, 2018, Mavcom executive chairman Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (picture) had communicated with all airlines to seek clarification if there was sufficient demand for the additional flights requested. The commission further reiterates that it had not issued any directive to any airline to reduce or cancel any flights,” Mavcom said.

According to the commission, only AirAsia proceeded to reduce its application for extra flights, while FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Airlines Bhd and Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd maintained their requests.

AirAsia, on April 13 and April 18, requested for a total of 54 additional flights (27 return journeys with a maximum volume of 13,660 passengers) to be operated during the GE14 period, which Mavcom approved on April 17 and April 18 respectively.

On April 20, Mavcom said the low-cost carrier requested for an additional 86 flights (43 return journeys with a maximum volume of 15,480 passengers) to be operated during the GE14 period.

However, the commission received a revised flight application on April 23 for 66 additional flights (33 return journeys with a maximum volume of 12,274 passengers) for the period of May 6 to May 13, 2018, from AirAsia, superseding its earlier applications.

“In its email submission, AirAsia specified that its previous applications should be disregarded. The commission took note of this revision and subsequently approved this revised request on the same day.”

“Inclusive of AirAsia, the commission approved additional flight application of the various Malaysian-based airlines as of April 24, 2018, totalling 166 flights (83 return journeys with a maximum volume of 26,434 passengers),” Mavcom noted.

In response, AirAsia rebutted the police report against Fernandes, saying that it will “divulge the evidences and facts to the appropriate authorities at the right time”.

“We would like to emphasise that the video released by Fernandes on May 13, 2018, is fully supported by evidences and facts, including direct communication between AirAsia CEO Riad Asmat and Abdullah.

“We will cooperate fully with the police on this investigation in accordance to the law, and take all actions necessary to protect the interests of AirAsia, as well as Fernandes,” the airline said.

As at 5pm yesterday, AirAsia’s share fell 2.57%, or nine sen, to RM3.41, giving it a market capitalisation of RM11.78 billion.