Transport Ministry open to proposals on airport ops


THE Transport Ministry is open to proposals from private parties on how to operate and pay for airport terminals in Malaysia.

“We are open to proposals on how our airports and future terminals are to be paid for and to be operated,” said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar, in response to queries whether the government will open up the operation of airports in Malaysia to private parties.

This follows recent reports quoting Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) as stating that over 75% of its 39 airports in Malaysia are not commercially viable.

MAHB said maintaining the airports, which are managed under a cross-subsidisation model, involves massive capital and operational expenses.

AirAsia Group Bhd had previously raised complaints on the quality and service standards at some of the airports managed by MAHB.

The low-cost airline had expressed its wishes to have its own terminal — carrier and airport operator — all in one package.

“I believe the policy is not to allow an airline to operate the terminal, but we recognise that the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) needs the expansion.

“It’s just that how the expansion is going to be done has not been determined yet,” Kamarudin told reporters after officiating the launch of landing permit filing system Aerofile in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said several airports in the country are currently undergoing expansion, with the Langkawi International Airport set to be operational by September following the completion of expansion works.

On whether a ceiling will be imposed on domestic airfares, Kamarudin said a study conducted by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) found that such a ceiling has its disadvantages as well as advantages.

He said the ministry will continue to discuss the matter with Mavcom in search for a solution.

“Having a price ceiling on airfares may not be 100% the best thing,” he said.

Mavcom COO Azmir Zain said in the short term, a cap on airfares is manageable but has its cons as well.

“The disadvantages we found when looking at jurisdictions where a ceiling was imposed was that airfares actually increased over the course of the year rather than becoming more affordable.”

Mavcom had been tasked by the ministry to conduct a study on potentially imposing an airfare ceiling, after complaints of flight price spikes particularly during festive periods.

On Aerofile, the automated filing system for all landing permit applications for commercial flights operating to or from Malaysia was formulated to reduce paperwork, increase transparency and shorten processing time.

The multi-agency initiative was led by Mavcom and developed together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia and National Slot Coordination Malaysia.

The platform went live on Aug 1 and is utilised by foreign and local airlines in Malaysia.

Several local airlines were engaged in the development, including Malaysia Airlines Bhd, AirAsia Bhd, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd and Raya Airways Sdn Bhd, as well as foreign carriers Singapore Airlines Ltd and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.