Mavcom’s Nungsari fires back at Fernandes’ claims of a dysfunctional entity

The commission has undertaken many initiatives that benefit the consumers and industry players since it was established in March 2016

by SHAZNI ONG

THE Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has fired back at AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes’ criticism against the aviation regulator, claiming its policies are for all stakeholders and not for a single entity.

The aviation tycoon in his LinkedIn post titled “Mavcom — a dysfunctional entity”, claimed the commission has “failed to discharge their duties effectively and fairly”.

Fernandes also listed several reasons including claiming “Mavcom has introduced time-consuming and bureaucratic policies”,“Mavcom dictates airlines’ commercial decisions”, and “Mavcom’s formation has added an unnecessary cost burden to travellers”.

Mavcom executive chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi (picture) said there are more than one stakeholders in the country’s aviation industry and the commission’s role is to ensure it benefits the overall industry and not any specific player.

He said the commission had “consciously worked” towards that objective and would continue to act in that manner.

“I read the comments made by the CEO of AirAsia Group in LinkedIn on Mavcom with some interest.

As a regulator, I have a duty to speak responsibly and be fact-based. It is in that context I wish to highlight the following,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Nungsari said the commission has undertaken many initiatives that benefit the consumers and industry players since it was established in March 2016.

“Our Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code (2016) has ensured consumers only pay for those services which they opt for. We have also eliminated hidden charges such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 fee.

“Meanwhile, payment processing fees cannot be charged separately from the base fare. We believe these measures, resulting in greater transparency, would allow consumers to enjoy monetary savings and make more informed decisions.

“We also believe aviation consumer complaints are now being taken more seriously, and refunds will be reimbursed to passengers within 30 days from the date of request,” he said.

Nungsari also said the commission’s work with the industry is substantial.

“For instance, from January 2018 to August 2019, the commission has issued over 93% of air traffic rights (ATR) applied by the airlines, in accordance with a transparent process introduced by the commission following consultation with the airlines, including AirAsia.

“AirAsia is, in fact, a major beneficiary with more than 50% of all ATRs awarded during this period being allocated to them. We further note that 24% of these ATRs that were granted to AirAsia had subsequently been returned to us as they were unutilised,” he said.

Nungsari added that the commission has also introduced a robust licensing application process that ensures only serious, capable and prepared applicants are considered.

“We have even protected the interests of consumers affected by the failure of an airline whose licence was awarded prior to Mavcom’s establishment.

“We have introduced an Airports Quality of Service to elevate service standards at airports and have been working with the industry and capital markets in implementing the internationally recognised Regulated Asset Base Framework (a methodology for calculating airport charges) in Malaysia among others.

“More information on the commission and our work is available on the Mavcom website including the statements and publications issued to date. The answers to some of the matters raised in the LinkedIn article are available therein for those who care to look,” he said.

Nungsari also responded on Fernandes’ claim that Mavcom’s senior management have conflicts of interest and are resistant to change.

“The Mavcom team, who are former employees of airlines (including AirAsia), airports, other regulatory bodies, private sector, and civil service, are ably qualified professionals comprising among others aviation professionals, financial analysts, economists and lawyers.

“Despite external pressures, we believe they have delivered much good to the consumers and industry,” he said.

Nungsari added that the commission and its employees are duty-bound to act within the confines of the Malaysian Aviation Commission Act 2015 (Act 771).

“We intend to ensure industry players similarly respect the laws and regulations of the country — our recent financial penalties are pursuant to this goal.

“We are aware that we can be subjected to judicial review. As an example, AirAsia had sought leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the commission. In that particular case, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had on June 25, 2019, rejected the said leave application,” he said.