AirAsia Group is slapped with RM36.1m suit by MAHB’s subsidiary
By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
Ministry of Transport (MoT) calls on the management of AirAsia Group Bhd (AAB) and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to resolve the outstanding passenger service charge (PSC) dispute which is turning into an ugly corporate feud.
The low-cost carrier and its long-haul affiliate AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) are slapped with a RM36.11 million legal suit by MAHB’s subsidiary, Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd, related to the PSC arrears.
In a tit-for-tat response, both AAB and AAX are threatening to file cross claims against MAHB, claiming financial impact due major apron defects, random closure of runways, damage to aircraft and rupture of fuel pipelines.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke said MoT recognised the “tense situation” between both parties, and will initiate the mediation process to de-escalate the situation.
“MoT will mediate the talk and we hope that will harmonise the situation,” he said after officiating the MAHB “Happy Guest, Caring Hosts” service culture transformation programme in Sepang, Selangor, yesterday.
Loke said the meeting will take place as soon as possible.
The feud between MAHB and AirAsia has been dragging for a few years with the latter constantly issuing statements critical of the airport operator, including the status of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) as a low-cost terminal and the facilities offered at other airports managed by MAHB.
The airport operator has denied the claims. AirAsia is MAHB’s largest client at KLIA2, ferrying millions through the airport’s gates.
Speculation that AirAsia owes the airport operator PSC arrears has been swirling, but it was denied by the airlines.
But the tiff between the two listed firm continue to brew despite past agreements that both parties were willing to resolve the matter through discussions.
“Of course, there are issues and we acknowledge them. But we have to sit down and talk about it. What we want is, whatever issue, it has to be dealt amicably by both parties,” he added.
The latest MAHB-AirAsia squabble comes less than a week after Loke established the National Aviation Consultative Council. The council is supposed to offer all industry stakeholders a conducive and healthy communication platform.
AAB and AAX have been alleged to have failed to adhere to the PSC equalisation exercise by the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) which was effective early this year.
The PSC is paid by departing passengers and is collected by the airlines upon purchase of tickets. It is later passed on to MAHB.
The charge at KLIA2 — where AirAsia operates — was set at RM73 per passenger beginning Jan 1 this year, from RM50 previously.
AAB and AAX have refused to comply with the adjustment and continued to collect the old rate of RM50 per passenger and will defend these proceedings “vigorously” as they believe the claims are made “without justification and they are unreasonable”.
It was reported that Mavcom plans to create a service level agreement between airports and airlines.
Meanwhile, MAHB acting group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said KLIA airport registered a steady 3% growth to 54.5 million passenger traffic movements for the period between January-November 2018 compared to the same period last year.
The main terminal and KLIA2 managed 25.4 million and 29 million passengers respectively .
In total, the airport operator had registered 89.8 million passenger traffic movements for all its airports in the last 11 months of the year.