Loke reminds airlines to adhere to govt’s laws

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Airlines have been reminded to adhere to regulations set by the government, particularly on illegal charges that are imposed on the passengers.

Ministry of Transport (MoT) Minister Anthony Loke (picture) said the government will also continue to engage all the relevant stakeholders before any law is gazetted, and that should be a strong reason for airlines to obey the rules.

He was commenting on a report by The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday on the Malaysian Aviation Commission’s (Mavcom) move to introduce the second series of the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (MACPC) soon.

Among others, the laws will prohibit airlines and airport operators from imposing unnecessary charges on passengers, including the RM3 charged by frills-free carriers AirAsia Group Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd to passengers departing from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2).

“As far as the hidden cost and others (charges), Mavcom has a set of regulations that airlines have to abide to. Nevertheless, all regulations will be very transparent.

“Whenever we want to roll out any regulation, discussion will definitely be held with stakeholders,” Loke told reporters after officiating the Ground Team Red Sdn Bhd’s (GTR) new airport control centre in KLIA2 in Sepang, Selangor, yesterday.

In the TMR report, Mavcom chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said the proposed code currently awaits the Attorney General’s Chambers’ approval. “Once they approve it, then we will gazette it after consultation with the MoT.”

Nungsari added that the laws will give Mavcom more authority to enforce the MACPC rather than mere talks.

Loke said the government encourages the stakeholders to continue their engagements for the sake of the industry’s growth.

“On lowering the cost issue, I am always for the lowering of the cost and this is somewhere that I have to come in to moderate all parties including Mavcom, MAHB (Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd) and airlines, so that all of us will work together.

“We will continue to engage and discuss as there is no simple solution.

“Everyone must be prepared to do this. This is the way moving forward. We are not looking at the situation where each stakeholder confronts each other,” he added.

GTR, a joint-venture company between SATS Ltd and AirAsia Bhd, commenced operations on Nov 1, 2017. It provides groundhandling services for the low-cost carrier.

Also present at the ceremony were AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes and GTR CEO Kevin Chin.

Tony said the group is ready to discuss the matter with Mavcom.

“We want low airfares and Mavcom also has to understand and work with us in lowering our cost. The cost of operating at KLIA2 is substantially higher than the cost of operating at the LCCT (low-cost carrier terminal) previously.

“We want to create higher demand as people can’t afford higher airfare prices. So, it is not about putting the RM3 charge. The point is that it is much more expensive in operating in this airport than when we were in the LCCT,” Fernandes said.

He added that the company would require “truly low-cost facilities” and will work with MAHB to address this matter.

Meanwhile, Tony said AirAsia is not interested in acquiring any stake in the airports.

“As an airline company, I think we should focus being in the airline business, despite we constantly have battles on the airport side, but we just need the operator to understand our business model and help us reduce our cost, so it can be passed to the passenger.

“However, it is not our job to build the airport. We don’t want to lose focus as our job is to move people at a cheaper price,” he said, referring to the Budget 2019 in which the government proposed to create a real estate investment trust (REIT) for its airports by disposing of 30% of the REIT’s equity.

Meanwhile, Chin said the GTR new control centre will enhance the company’s ground handling operation’s efficiency by adapting to digitalisation.

The system allows guest services personnel to use smartphones to execute the boarding process at the gate, while the staff would board the passengers by tracking the boarding process in real-time.