Tuesday, September 24

AirAsia stands firm in tax row with MAHB

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Riad Asmat

SEPANG: AirAsia Group Bhd (AirAsia) is adamant on its refusal to increase the airport tax charged on passengers departing from klia2 on behalf of Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd (MASSB), a subsidiary of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB).

In reference to the Writ of Summons served to AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) and AirAsia, by MASSB, AirAsia in a statement, stressed that AirAsia has been collecting, on behalf of MASSB, RM50 airport tax from every non-Asean international passenger departing from klia2 since January 1, 2017.

To date, AirAsia has paid a total of RM663.051 million in airport tax to MASSB and on February 1, 2018, MASSB increased the airport tax charged on non-Asean international passengers departing from klia2 to RM73.

Raising non-Asean international passengers airport tax to RM73 from RM50 effectively equalised Passenger Service Charge (PSC) between klia2 and KLIA.

The PSC, better known as airport tax, is charged on departing passengers by airports. Airlines typically collect airport tax on behalf of airport operators as part of the air fare.

“AirAsia is not obligated to collect airport tax for MASSB, and we have refused to collect the additional charge from passengers on behalf of MASSB,” said AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer Riad Asmat.

He explained:”Passengers using klia2 should not be charged the same rates as passengers in KLIA, as klia2 is a low-cost terminal with far lower levels of service provided to passengers, compared to KLIA, which is a full-service terminal.”

He also pointed out that AirAsia had previously lodged a number of official complaints regarding the substandard infrastructure and access at klia2 which has negatively impacted our operational performance and punctuality, including unsatisfactory state of infrastructure at klia2, apron defects, ground depression, flooding, and others.

“From our calculations, these cross-claims far exceed the amount of airport tax that we have refused to collect for MASSB from our passengers.

“It is to be reiterated that we have tried, on various occasions, and without success, to engage MASSB on these issues. Regrettably, MASSB has instead decided to take the matter public and instigate legal action based on claims that AirAsia will strongly refute.

“Furthermore, while MASSB is only taking into account “the interest of the stakeholders and staff”, as stated in the Writ of Summons, AirAsia, as the people’s airline, is factoring the interests of the public, the tourism industry and the nation,” he highlighted.

He further commented: “Low-cost carriers like AirAsia stimulate demand and grow the air travel market, providing a significant boost for tourism. To consciously curtail air travel, which benefits both the people and the wider economy, in order to enrich a select few is selfish and un-Malaysian.”

Riad says passengers using klia2 should not be charged the same rates as passengers in KLIA, as klia2 is a low-cost terminal with far lower levels of service provided to passengers, compared with KLIA, which is a full-service terminal.