Mavcom issues show-cause letters to airlines over hidden charges

We have noted that some airlines are still charging a processing fee, which is not part of the base fare, says the regulator


THE Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has issued several show-cause letters to airline companies that failed to comply with the Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (Amendments) 2019 (MACPC) which came into effect on June 1.

In an email reply to The Malaysian Reserve (TMR), Mavcom said a number of air carriers are still charging processing fees to air travellers despite the new code having been discussed and communicated with all stakeholders for over a year.

“As a result of our checks, as well as through passenger complaints that we have received, it has come to the attention of the commission that several airlines may have breached subparagraph 3(2) of the MACPC,” a Mavcom spokesperson told TMR.

In accordance with subparagraph 3(2) of the MACPC, all airlines must now disclose the final price of airfare before any ticket is purchased.

Mavcom has outlined that at the point of payment, the breakdown should display five items — namely the base fare, government-imposed taxes and fees, charges prescribed under any written law, fuel surcharge and optional services purchased by a consumer on an opt-in basis.

“We have noted that some airlines are still charging a processing fee, which is not part of the base fare. The processing fee appears as a line item only at the point of payment,” the spokesperson said.

Prior to announcing the MACPC amendments, the regulator held several consultations with relevant stakeholders and the public between February and March 2018.

Additionally, all parties involved were officially informed through a briefing undertaken by the commission on Dec 18, 2018.

A reminder was also issued via an official email dated May 27, 2019, on the new requirements, which must be adhered to from June 1, 2019.

“As the airlines may have violated the new code, the commission had issued show cause letters to the airlines in line with part VI paragraph 22 of the MACPC.

“The airlines are given the opportunity to provide a written representation to the commission and further action will be determined upon evaluation of the airlines’ responses to the said show cause letters,” the spokesperson said.

Airlines typically have 14 days to revert on the letter. Failure to do so, the commission may impose a financial penalty to any party for non-compliance at an amount not exceeding RM200,000.

The MACPC, which came into effect on July 1, 2016, was formulated with the main aim of protecting the rights and interests of air passengers.

It provides a guideline on consumer rights and complaints processes as well as penalties on non-compliance. The amendments to the MACPC was gazetted on May 10, 2019.

Mavcom COO Azmir Zain recently announced that the days of airlines levying multiple hidden extra charges, such as administrative and card-payment charges, on passengers had come to an end.