Mavcom on wait-and-see mode over MAHB-AirAsia spat


The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) will not involve itself in the ongoing spat between Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and AirAsia Group Bhd, over the collection of passenger service charge (PSC) at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2).

Mavcom chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi (picture) said the regulator will instead wait for a court decision on the matter.

“This is a commercial dispute between two parties. It is the court who will decide the next course of action which may include involving Mavcom.

“So, (it’s) best (to) wait for the court’s decision,” he told The Malaysian Reserve when contacted yesterday.

As an alternative to existing dispute resolution methods, any dispute between one or more aviation service providers can be referred to Mavcom for the regulator to adjudicate.

The Mavcom Act 2015 provides that if the dispute is already in the middle of an arbitration or litigation in any courts of law, parties must choose which method to use and not both.

Mavcom’s decisions are final and will be registered as a judgement of the High Court.

Last week, AirAsia said MAHB had rejected an offer for mediation as stipulated by Mavcom.

The PSC has been the point of contention between the airport operator and AirAsia after the government’s decision to streamline PSC rates across all international airports in the country.

AirAsia has remained steadfast in its claim that KLIA2 — the frills-free airline’s homeground — should not be imposed the same rate of PSC with the KLIA Main Terminal.

AirAsia claimed that KLIA2 airport facilities are below par if compared to the Main Terminal.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke, who pledged to de-escalate the tension, had formed the National Aviation Consultative Council in December, tasked to offer all industry stakeholders a conducive and healthy communication platform.

However, days after the council’s formation, AirAsia and its long-haul affiliate AirAsia X Bhd were slapped with a legal notice by MAHB’s subsidiary Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd, seeking RM36.11 million in PSC arrears.

In response, the airlines sought more than RM400 million in counterclaims against MAHB on alleged disruptions at KLIA2 which caused financial losses and damaged assets.

In a related development, MAHB has issued a letter to AirAsia, demanding the top management of the airline group to refrain from making false claims as published on its website.

MAHB had also asked for the articles to be removed immediately as it would affect the company’s reputation upon the court proceedings.

“While MAHB takes no issue with AirAsia informing its shareholders of the progress and status of court suits in accordance with the law, AirAsia has overstepped its boundaries by publishing false, inaccurate and misleading statements in the media aimed at damaging the reputation of MAHB.

“Following this, MAHB has no choice but to necessarily issue the letter of demand to protect its interests,” the airport operator noted in a statement.

MAHB said it maintains its long-standing position that relevant disputes and related matters have all been presented before the courts for determination, and parties should let the matters be decided by the courts.

MAHB would also consider taking “further necessary action” should AirAsia refuse to comply with the demand, it added.

Meanwhile, AirAsia said it was puzzled on MAHB’s choice to use its “dominant position” and the “threat of a legal action” to resolve the dispute.

“In furtherance of an open dialogue and an amicable solution, we offered to mediate as required under the Mavcom Act to resolve all outstanding issues, however, MAHB summarily rejected this overture.

“We maintain that a court battle will have negative effects on Malaysia’s economy and aviation industry.

“We will avail ourselves of all avenues to defend ourselves against all actions, whether through mediation and arbitration as the law requires, or in the courts of law as MAHB seeks,” the airline group added.