PETALING JAYA: An aviation analyst says Putrajaya must be held accountable over troubled carrier MYAirline Sdn Bhd’s abrupt suspension of its operations on Thursday, which left more than 5,000 passengers in the lurch.
Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said the regulators must take responsibility and explain why they allowed the airline to operate.
“The government must bear full responsibility as, ultimately, government agencies Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) are the regulators. Heads must roll,” he told FMT.
On Thursday, MYAirline suspended its operations immediately, citing “severe financial challenges”.
In an internal email sighted by FMT, the airline said it had “explored all avenues for potential partnerships and capital raising exercises” to rescue the airline, but ultimately ran out of time.
Mavcom said MYAirline had to refund all affected customers and stop accepting bookings until further notice.
Transport expert Wan Agyl Wan Hassan said if there were signs that MYAirline was not sustainable and these were overlooked, then questions needed to be raised.
“While no regulatory process can guarantee any airline’s success, it is crucial to ensure that the due diligence was indeed thorough and that all potential risks were adequately assessed,” said the managing partner of transport consultancy Agyl & Partners.
Wan Agyl also said MYAirline’s predicament showed a need for regular monitoring where the authorities should periodically assess airlines’ financial and operational health to identify issues before it escalated.
He said Putrajaya must establish clear exit protocols, including guidelines on how airlines should cease operations, to minimise disruptions to passengers and the supply chain involved.
Shukor, on the other hand, said the government must take a “laissez-faire” approach in regulating the aviation market, but it needed to have a firmer grip on “regulating the regulators”.
Transport minister Loke Siew Fook slammed MYAirline’s decision to suspend its operations abruptly, calling the low-cost carrier’s actions “irresponsible”.
He said his ministry and Mavcom were caught by surprise by the airline’s decision as no prior notice had been given to them.
Stating that it was the first time a local airline had suspended its operations in such a hasty manner, Loke said he was concerned that it would put the country in a bad light, especially among foreign travellers.
Wan Agyl said as long as the regulatory bodies address the situation transparently and take steps to prevent similar issues in the future, the impact on overall confidence in Malaysia’s aviation sector could be mitigated.