Suasa Airlines, Eaglexpress call for Mavcom abolishment

Suasa Airlines CEO claims Mavcom is inefficient in performing its role to govern the country’s airline industry

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By TMR

Two privately owned charter airlines, Eaglexpress Air Charter Sdn Bhd and Suasa Airlines Sdn Bhd, have joined AirAsia Bhd in urging the government to abolish industry regulator Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom).

Suasa Airlines CEO Captain Sheikh Salleh Abbod said Mavcom is inefficient in performing its role to govern the country’s airline industry.

“The regulator has not played its role in encouraging the industry to grow, instead it had been suppressing it.

“It has brought more harm than good to the aviation players, and we urge the government to review its role and see whether it is still a viable aviation arm to have.

“We hope the new government will treat the matter fairly as Mavcom has not been treating us equally,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Sheikh Salleh claimed before the establishment of Mavcom, the industry, which was initially regulated under the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and Transport Ministry, was performing optimally.

He alleged that Mavcom’s current operation cost is 40 times higher than its annual cost when it began operation in 2016.

“The operating cost for Mavcom has ballooned almost 40 times to an exorbitant figure compared to when it began operation, which was RM60,000 annually,” he said.

On July 22, 2016, Mavcom rejected Suasa Airlines’ application to operate a non-scheduled commercial flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi as it did not possess a valid permit.

In January 2017, Suasa Airlines pleaded guilty to operate without a valid air service permit and was fined RM380,000.

Sheik Salleh said Suasa Airlines had filed for an air service permit (ASP) for a non- scheduled flight in 2016, but was left in the dark as the commission failed to issue the permit.

“We have been waiting for Mavcom to reply to our application. We are essentially out of business as 90% of our staff have been retrenched and we had to sell two of our aircraft to sustain the company.

“Also, we have to bear around RM700,000 cost monthly for the maintenance of the remaining aircraft and parking fees,” he said.

Another airline, Eaglexpress Air Charter was also out of business after Mavcom revoked its ASP in December 2016 for failure to meet the statutory requirement of having a mini- mum RM30 million in its account.

President Captain Azlan Zainal Abidin (picture) said the airline had to incur RM300 million losses after the company ceased its operation.

“We could not pay the salary of the staff and we were stuck with the Employees Provident Fund payment, but Mavcom did not see this implication.

“Also, we did not get any support by major financial institutions in Malaysia to operate as banks do not under- stand the nature of our business operation,” he said.

Mavcom was established on March 1, 2016, under the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 to regulate economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation in Malaysia.

After its establishment, the aviation licensing processes including the air service licence and ASP, were made through the commission as opposed to the Department of Civil Aviation previously.