‘ROUTE REJECTION TO HAMPER TOURISM’
Mavcom’s decision is completely against Open Skies policy, says AirAsia
MALAYSIAN Aviation Commission’s (Mavcom) rejection of AirAsia Group’s route applications will only further hamper Malaysia’s tourism and economic growth.
AirAsia reiterated its stance that the responsibility for granting route approvals should be given back to Transport Ministry.
In its statement, the group said Transport Ministry understood the importance and valued the benefits of a fully liberalised aviation industry, and had consistently granted the necessary route approvals as long as bilateral rights were available.
AirAsia Bhd chief executive officer Riad Asmat said Mavcom should leave the business to airlines that understood the market.
“By failing to understand the true business of airlines, and by trying to micro-manage the industry, Mavcom is doing more harm than good to aviation industry, which the exact opposite of its mandate.
“It is holding the sector back with slow approvals and high charges, while other countries invest heavily in increased air traffic connectivity, to the detriment of the economy and tourism sector,” he said.
Yesterday, Mavcom defended its decisions to reject AirAsia’s route application.
Mavcom said it looked to facilitate orderly growth, competition and consumer choice over the long term, and the prevention of consumer inconvenience, in the allocation of air traffic rights (ATR).
AirAsia said Mavcom’s ATR allocation did not follow a process that took into account of airlines’ views. It said AirAsia had provided feedback at all Mavcom’s meetings to discuss the proposal to revise the ATR allocation process, as well as in letters, but most of its concerns were ignored and had not been addressed.
Mavcom’s decision to reject route applications was therefore completely against the Open Skies policy advocated by the Transport Ministry when negotiating for bilateral air agreements with other countries, it added.
AirAsia’s application to increase Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan flights from 25 to 32 trips per week was rejected, with Mavcom citing overcapacity.
AirAsia’s flights on that route had achieved a 90 per cent load factor. “We wish to seek clarification from Mavcom on why MASwings is allowed to operate 21 trips a week on the route.”
As for Kuala Lumpur-Haikou, AirAsia said it was irrelevant that it had terminated the route in 2012 as market conditions had changed since then.
“Tourists from China now enjoy an e-Visa facility for travel into Malaysia, while Malaysians enjoy visa-free access to Hainan island, where Haikou is located.
“Additional capacity is needed on the route to cope with the projected increase in traffic between Kuala Lumpur and Haikou,” it said.