Provide proof of klia2 long lines? Not our job, AirAsia tells Mavcom

Jerry Choong
AirAsia chief executive officer Riad Asmat accused Mavcom of forsaking its responsibility, saying aviation regulator’s duty is to protect the rights of air passengers. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Low-cost carrier AirAsia Group today questioned the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for requesting it provide documented details of congestion at klia2 immigration counters.

AirAsia Berhad chief executive officer Riad Asmat accused the aviation regulator of forsaking its responsibility, saying Mavcom’s duty is to protect the rights of air passengers.

“The onus is clearly on the commission, which is funded by the rakyat, to get on the ground to inspect and investigate the highlighted issue.

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

Riad pointed out that Mavcom officials can take a direct train from their office to witness the chaotic scene at the airport immigration counters personally.

“It only takes their officials a few hours off from their KL Sentral office for a quick visit to klia2 to see for themselves how severe the situation is at immigration counters 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 has ever visited AirAsia’s head office RedQ, right next to klia2, when we have streams of visitors including foreign regulators and policymakers visiting us to better understand the low-cost carrier model of AirAsia,” he said.

He further questioned if his organisation is of any importance to the commission.

The group’s long-haul carrier AirAsia X Berhad chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail said all Malaysians ought to hold Mavcom accountable for its 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.

“This is not the first instance of Mavcom’s reluctance to act on complaints and issues, and I am sure it will not be the last. The RM480 million lawsuit that AirAsia filed against Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) for operational losses at klia2 two weeks ago was a result of Mavcom’s refusal to decide on the dispute as requested in our earlier notification to them,” he said.

Benyamin also pointed out another of the commission’s failings, in which it refused to mediate in the klia2 passenger service charge (PSC) dispute between AirAsia and MAHB, which forced the Cabinet to decide on a lower PSC for klia2 and other airports.

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

Similarly on Friday, Transport Minister Anthony Loke was reported to have said the government is looking into public-private partnership model airport operations, which could lead to MAHB having to compete with others in the future.

His remarks contributed to MAHB’s share dropping to RM0.66, causing a loss of RM1.09 billion in market capitalisation. When asked to comment on the ramifications of his remarks yesterday at Parliament, Loke declined to respond.

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