CAAM mulls higher fees for airlines using Malaysian airspace

An aircraft flies over Sepang, Selangor. Airlines using the Malaysian airspace could pay more under a plan by the Civil Aviation Authority to review overflight fees.

PUTRAJAYA: The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) will review overflight fees for airlines using the Malaysian airspace, as part of a plan to boost revenue for the aviation body which came under criticism following a downgrade by US authorities recently.

Transport Minister Loke Siew Fook said the charges, which he said were a major income for aviation authorities around the world, have not been reviewed since 2006.

He said CAAM was still dependant on government funding, which allocates it RM350 million annually, adding that it should be financially independent in order to be more efficient.

This comes after CAAM was criticised in the wake of the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) downgrade of Malaysia’s air safety rating to Category 2 last week.

“We’ll focus on corrective measures today, and notify all airlines that the impending charges will be reviewed,” Loke told a press conference at CAAM’s headquarters today.

Meanwhile, Loke denied a claim by former prime minister Najib Razak that the last FAA audit report was carried out in 2016, saying it was done in 2003.

Loke also announced a task force to begin efforts to restore Malaysia’s Category 1 status and sort out the 33 issues highlighted by FAA in its report.

The task force will be made up of pilots, engineers and a technical coordinator. Three of them would be members of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Loke cited problems of remuneration to attract qualified technical personnel for CAAM.

“We will talk to the Public Service Department and apply for CAAM to be separated from the government pay scheme in the near future,” Loke said.

Loke today admitted the FAA downgrade would affect the image of Malaysia’s aviation sector.

“So we must take this seriously. Our hope is to return to Category 1 and continue to be respected worldwide,” he added.