Increase charges and M’sia will lose out, cautions Fernandes

Tony-Fernandes_klia_600

PUTRAJAYA: It’s a game of numbers and if the Malaysian Government decides to increase the passenger service charge (PSC) at klia2, then the number of travellers at the airport will decrease tremendously.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes rejected the call by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the PSC at KLIA and klia2 to be standardised.

He said higher charges would defeat the low-cost concept of klia2.

“This is a volume game. If you lower the charges, we will get more people and you will get more money, which means that you can then charge higher rental at, let’s say, McDonald’s.

“And you will also make more money at the duty free (section). It’s a very simple solution.

” But if you charge us more, fewer people will come and the country loses,” he said at a press conference after a luncheon talk at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre today.

To make his point, Fernandes likened AirAsia to a three-star hotel and said that if “every hotel in Malaysia was five-star, there will be very few tourists here”.

“Airports should have a similar set-up to woo more tourists, encourage passenger travel and the tourism industry.”

He also said 14 years ago, AirAsia drew only 200,000 passengers annually, but now the figure had risen to more than 25 million.

Hence, instead of allowing IATA to dictate the way Malaysia’s airline industry operates, and stop “poorer” people from flying, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) should look for other solutions, he added.

Fernandes also pointed to the fact that Malaysia had become the leader of the low-cost carrier market, having beaten Singapore “handsomely”.

“Malaysia Airports should think Blue Ocean, think differently. How can we let a foreign organisation tell and spoil what our people have been enjoying all this while?

“When that foreign organisation does not say the same about (London airports) Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports.

“IATA should also issue the same call to the airports in London and France. Stansted airport has different charges compared with Heathrow.”

Most airports worldwide normally have a rate difference of US$1 to US$2 (RM4 to RM8), but for KLIA and klia2, the rate difference is US$8.25.

IATA had recently slammed the anti-competitive standard and said that removing the difference was also in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) principles, which stated there should be no discrimination if airlines are accessing the same level of facilities and services.