MoT leaves it to MACC to probe AirAsia on Airbus

UK’s SFO alleged that Airbus paid a bribe of RM206m to win plane orders from Malaysia’s LCCs, AirAsia and AirAsia X


THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is free to investigate into Airbus SE’s investments in Malaysia, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke (picture).

Loke said the government will not interfere with the probe as MACC is an independent agency.

“I think it is the job of MACC. It is not our (Transport Ministry’s [MoT]) jurisdiction. (It is) up to MACC to take the necessary step. Government will not interfere,” Bernama reported Loke as saying when asked if the government would check all Airbus’ transactions in the country following the corruption allegations.

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) alleged that Airbus paid a bribe of US$50 million (RM206 million) to win plane orders from Malaysia’s low-cost carriers (LCCs), AirAsia Group Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd.

Meanwhile, Loke in his speech said the government has requested local airlines to increase aviation capacity by more than 20% to reduce price hike during festive seasons.

“To reduce price hike during festive seasons, the government has pledged commitment from airlines in the country to increase aviation capacity by more than 20% for seven days preceding Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Gawai and intercultural holidays, especially on high demand routes,” he said in a monthly meeting at the ministry’s office in Putrajaya yesterday.

The ministry also sought cooperation from airport operators, ground-handling companies, express rail link services and taxis to extend operations at relevant airports within the seven days.

“In this regard, the government will continue to encourage and facilitate all airlines including Malaysia Airlines Bhd, Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd and AirAsia to increase the number of flights during festive seasons.

“By adopting an approach to increase supply to consumers, large demand can be met and prices can be controlled without the intervention of the government setting ceiling and floor prices in the form of regulations or directives,” he said.

Additionally, Loke said Malaysia needs to have a comprehensive network of air transport services, especially in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia 2020.

“Malaysia has so far established an air transport service arrangement with 109 countries and as such, Malaysia has open skies with 24 countries.

“Via this agreement, airlines from the countries are free to provide unlimited flight services and (various) types of aircraft between Malaysia and those countries,” Loke said at the ministry’s monthly meeting yesterday.

He added that such agreement would increase the level of connectivity of Malaysia and tourist arrivals, boosting the tourism industry.

In addition, airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd has estimated that passenger handling performance at all Malaysian airports to grow by 5.1%.

“Meanwhile, cargo handling performance is estimated to remain the same as last year based on current economic trends.

“However, the implementation of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Aeropolis and digital free trade zone in KLIA is expected to be a catalyst for growth in cargo handling in Malaysia,” Loke added.

On top of that, the MoT also plans to work with the airport operator to upgrade a few airports, namely Penang International Airport, Pulau Pinang; Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Kelantan; Sandakan Airport, Sabah; and Mukah Airport, Sarawak.

“It is the government’s hope that the national carriers will continue to provide the best service to Malaysians,” he said.