‘ROUTE RE­JEC­TION TO HAM­PER TOURISM’

Mav­com’s de­ci­sion is com­pletely against Open Skies pol­icy, says AirAsia

New Straits Times - - BUSINESS / NEWS -

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.

Riad As­mat

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