AAX: Late TIA fees due to ex-Nepalese partner

By SHAZNI ONG / Pic By TMR File

AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) has clarified that the overdue payments claimed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) are due to long outstanding payments which were not made by the carrier’s former local partner in Nepal, Incentive Group of Cos (IGC).

In a statement yesterday, the airline said the matter was only communicated to AAX by CAAN last year.

“AAX confirms that the airline is current on all payments to CAAN in respect to its operations into the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), and reiterates that it has consistently made regular payments to CAAN.

“In the spirit of resolving the issue amicably with CAAN, AAX had in good faith remitted additional payments on top of the current monthly charges to CAAN, which resulted in additional operational costs and resources on the part of AAX,” an AAX spokesperson said.

The airline also dismissed a news report by The Himalayan Times earlier this week claiming that AAX had asked TIA to waive their payments related to late fees, with around 350 million rupees (RM20.72 million) pending dues to be paid to the airport.

“It is unfortunate that the airline was not contacted or provided with the right of response to media reports published in order to ensure accurate reporting on behalf of the airline.

“AAX supports any action that CAAN takes to resolve the matter directly with IGC,” said the spokesperson, adding that CAAN had lodged a police report against IGC.

The spokesperson also said AAX had, on Aug 15 last year, announced that the airline suspended its fourtime weekly direct services between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu, Nepal, from Oct 13 the same year as part of its network restructuring plan to improve operational efficiency.

“(This) will redeploy resources (aircraft) to meet network demand, which is a standard business practice. The decision by the airline to suspend services from mid-October is unrelated to the above mentioned situation,” the spokesperson said.

The report also quoted TIA as saying that the airline still has to pay about 194 million rupees dues — of which around 130 million rupees is related to late fees.

Citing Shashi Lal Pradhan, deputy manager of the Civil Aviation Office at TIA, the paper reported that the airline had written a letter to TIA last month to seek a waiver of at least its late fees.

“However, we refused to do so,” Pradhan said, adding that the airline had again sent a letter through the Embassy of Malaysia in Nepal, after TIA refused its request to waive the late fees.

Pradhan added that TIA does not have any intention of waiving the late fees unless the Nepalese government gives a direction to do so.

AAX shares closed half-a-sen lower or 2% to 24 sen yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM1.01 billion.