AirAsia’s RM3 KLIA2 fee to be banned, says Mavcom

MACPC 2.0 will ban all unnecessary charges imposed on passengers


The RM3 charged by frills-free carriers AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd to passengers departing from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) will be made illegal under the enhanced consumer protection code.

The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) will introduce the second series of the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) in the near term, which will prohibit airlines and airport operators from imposing unnecessary charges on passengers.

Mavcom chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said the second series of MACPC will ban all unnecessary charges imposed on passengers, including capping the processing fees imposed by airlines to refund the passenger service charge (PSC).

“The regulation will determine the charges (that) can be charged by the airports and airlines to consumers.

“The proposed code is with the Attorney-General’s Chamber. Once they approve it, then we will gazette it after consultation with the Transport Ministry,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

Nungsari said once the regulation becomes law, it will give Mavcom more authority to enforce the consumer protection code.

“The regulation must be in place. If not it will be merely talks. So, when it is enforced, we can fine (those who break the codes) and it will become a civil case if they do not comply.”

The RM3 charge, listed as “KLIA2 fee” in AirAsia’s ticketing system, is imposed on all passengers departing from KLIA’s sister terminal.

The charge was introduced on May 9, 2014, when the low-cost carriers moved their operations to KLIA2 from the former cargo hub-turned budget terminal in Sepang.

AirAsia had said that the charge was imposed due to mandatory KLIA2 facilities imposed by airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) on the airline, such as aero bridges and the SITA check-in/boarding systems.

AirAsia continues to collect the additional levy up to now, despite criticisms from the public and government officials when it was implemented four years ago. It is not known how much the carriers have collected from the RM3 charge or how the fee is paid to MAHB.

In the past, AirAsia was embroiled over claims of unpaid airport tax, landing and other charges due to MAHB. But the airline, which is majority-owned by tycoon Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes, had repeatedly denied the claims.

An aviation analyst told The Malaysian Reserve that the RM3 charge was perceived to be a levy for an adjustment period for the airlines to move to KLIA2.

“Consumers thought that the charge would sooner or later be absorbed by the airlines after operating in KLIA2 for sometime.

“To our surprise, the charge has stayed for four years now. This might not be the right business model for the airline when it implicates the consumers in a dispute between the airline and airport operator,” said the analyst who declined to be named.

It is also not known how much PSC has been collected and returned to non-flying passengers. But industry insiders estimated between 10% and 15% of ticket holders failed to turn up for their flights annually. The PSC is included in the ticket prices irrespective whether travellers fly or not.

AirAsia Group is the largest airline operating at KLIA2. Last year, KLIA2 handled 30.3 million passengers.

During January to August this year, KLIA2 handled 21.3 million passengers, according to MAHB figures.