AirAsia says PSC hike threatens tourism, as spat continues with MAHB

AirAsia is the main airline operating out of klia2, but says the airport is fraught with problems. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia’s complaints against Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) continued today with the low-cost carrier blaming the airport authority’s “structural monopoly” for pushing up costs.

AirAsia said the hike in Passenger Service Charge (PSC) imposed by MAHB was unfair, and warned that the tax would lead to “unintended consequences” that would lead to its clients being “squeezed out of business”.

“Then, everything will collapse – Malaysia’s tourism arrivals, billions in tourism receipts and revenues to MAHB’s own coffers (a fact it has failed to acknowledge),” it said in a statement.

The airline also accused MAHB of providing “embarrassingly low service levels” despite its monopoly in managing Malaysian airports.

Last week, MAHB took AirAsia to court for its failure to collect millions of ringgit in airport taxes.

But AirAsia, which operates out of klia2, said it would not collect the tax, saying the low-cost carrier airport was not the same as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

In its statement today, AirAsia X Malaysia CEO Benyamin Ismail questioned the additional charge of RM23 from each passenger travelling through klia2.

“The millions of passengers departing from klia2, more than 90% of whom fly with AirAsia, will attest to the long walks they have had to endure to reach their gates in what is a passenger-unfriendly airport with inferior facilities yet unjustified high charges.”

He said klia2 had experienced frequent flight disruptions and cancellations due to runway problems and fuel pipeline ruptures.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat warned that Malaysia’s tourism sector was being threatened by MAHB’s price hikes.

“MAHB will continue to be among the most profitable Malaysian companies for many years to come. But this will come at a cost to the wider Malaysian economy and at the expense of engines of growth such as AirAsia and AirAsia X.”

Riad also questioned MAHB for referring to an outdated aviation law, the Chicago Convention of 1944.

“MAHB is falling back on a convention ratified in 1944, when Japan still ruled Malaya and when Frank Whittle was testing the jet engine and when only the well-heeled could fly.

“For all these reasons, we shall not accede to MAHB’s demands and we will take our battle both to the people and to the court of law.”