AirAsia: Mavcom has failed aviation consumers

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by TMR

AIRASIA Group Bhd has questioned the Malaysian Aviation Commission’s (Mavcom) request for details of congestion at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) immigration counters.

AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat said Mavcom’s request is proof of the commission’s disregard of its responsibility in protection of aviation consumers’ rights.

“Why do we need to provide evidence when the issue has been highlighted publicly in the news and on social media platforms?” Riad said in a statement yesterday.

He added that Mavcom officials can visit KLIA2 from their office in KL Sentral to assess the situation during peak hours.

“They can come on any day, as it is a daily occurrence and not an isolated incident as alleged.

“No one from Mavcom for that matter, including its executive chairman, has ever visited AirAsia’s head office RedQ which is just right next to KLIA2, when we have streams of visitors including foreign regulators and policymakers visiting us to better understand the low-cost carrier (LCC) model of AirAsia,” Riad said.

Since May 2018, Mavcom has collected RM1 in regulatory fees from each air passenger flying out of airports in Malaysia. It’s been estimated that the commission has earned as much as RM30 million from the fee collection.

AirAsia X Bhd CEO Benyamin Ismail (picture) also called on Malaysians to hold Mavcom accountable for the blatant disregard in upholding and protecting the rights of aviation consumers.

“In the meantime, the immigration congestion at KLIA2 worsened by the day, badly affecting our guests.

“Out of frustration, we wrote to Mavcom asking that they step in and help resolve the impasse,” he said.

This is not the first instance of the commission displaying reluctance to act on complaints and issues, Benyamin added.

He said the RM480 million lawsuit filed by AirAsia against Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) for operational losses at KLIA2 two weeks ago was a result of Mavcom’s refusal to decide on the dispute as requested by the budget airline.

The commission also refused to mediate in the KLIA2 passenger service charge (PSC) dispute between AirAsia and MAHB, Benyamin said.

“It took the Cabinet to decide on a lower PSC for KLIA2 and other airports. All this clearly goes contrary to Section 75 of its own Mavcom Act 2015,” he said.

He added that the commission will go down in Malaysia’s history as the one commission that “needs to be spoon-fed despite its members and employees being paid handsome salaries”.

“Mavcom must remember that it is highly funded by the rakyat but unfortunately, chose to fail them — big time,” he said.

The commission on Monday said AirAsia did not respond to its request for information on complaints about the long queues, after having received a letter from the airline in August 2019.

Mavcom was scheduled to meet with the Immigration Department of Malaysia and had requested for information prior to the meeting due to its importance in the discussion, it said in a statement.

The commission also said reminders were sent to the airline, whereby no response was received.