AirAsia took our statement out of context, says MAHB

AirAsia’s passenger traffic growth jumped 5% in 2016, 11% in 2017 and 15% in 1H18 at KKIA T1, refutes MAHB

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By TMR

The row between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia Group Bhd escalates as the former argued that its statement was brought out of context by the airline.

AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat said MAHB had suggested that the negative growth at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) between 2014 and 2015 was the key reason for AirAsia’s move to KKIA Terminal 1 (T1).

“By focusing on those two years, MAHB would have the public believe that passenger traffic had long been on the decline, and that this trend could only be reversed by moving AirAsia out of T2,” Riad said on Wednesday.

Riad said in the best interest of Sabah, MAHB should stop cherry-picking data to suit its agenda and instead work together with the airline.

In its latest rebuttal statement, MAHB claimed that AirAsia had taken its statement out of context.

“It was clear that the airline company took our statement out of context. According to their statement, we had implied that the negative growth was attributed to AirAsia’s move to KKIA T1,” MAHB said in a statement yesterday.

According to AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes, MAHB had refuted the claim previously by saying T2 was meant to serve as a temporary terminal catering to low-cost carriers (LCCs) until a bigger and better facility at T1 was completed.

It noted that with the exception of AirAsia Group, which only moved into the terminal in December 2015, all other LCCs had moved to T1 in 2010.

As for the passenger growth debate, MAHB said AirAsia’s passenger traffic growth at T2 had hovered between 2% and 3% in 2014 and 2015. It jumped 5% in 2016, 11% in 2017 and 15% in the first half of this year (1H18) at KKIA T1.

According to MAHB, the trend was not unique to AirAsia alone as other airlines with international routes also registered encouraging growth of 39% year-on-year (YoY) in 2016 and 43% YoY in 2017.

Fernandes was recently quoted as saying that the airline was back in talks with the relevant agencies, as well as the Sabah state government, to revive T2 as a dedicated LCC terminal.

MAHB also claimed that AirAsia has enjoyed RM376 million incentives to date as well as supported low-cost travel growth through a series of incentive programmes since 2002.

Yesterday’s statement by MAHB clarified that several incentive programmes from 2002 to 2009 were exclusive to AirAsia.

Subsequently, incentive programmes such as the Airlines Recovery Programme and Airlines Incentive Programmes 1, 11 and 111 were only made available to other airlines after 2009.

“To date, AirAsia has been paid RM376 million in incentives, which makes up 44% of the total amount of incentives paid out to all airlines, making them the biggest beneficiary,” MAHB said.