The recent outburst by AirAsia citing “safety” issues as it main reason for not moving to KLIA2. Is this the real reason?
First and foremost, it was AirAsia that demanded for KLIA2 to be built after it has failed to get the Tun Abdullah’s Administration to grant approval for KLIA East Airport in Labu. Even Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, the MD of Khazanah, did not agree with KLIA East. You will recall that the KLIA East episode blew up during the tail end of Tun Abdullah’s Administration. Please read HERE, HERE, HERE.
By the way, it was as early as in April 2012 that there were already talks of AirAsia not moving to the new KLIA2, HERE.
Therefore, AirAsia’s refusal to move to KLIA2 was not something new. It was just like a threat made by a spoilt brat. AirAsia’s innate behaviour shows that it must be given whatever it has demanded. It gave the impression that the whole nation owes it a living.
A few years ago AirAsia had threatened to move its headquarters to Jakarta for reason best known to itself. Presumably it thought that Indonesian authorities will bow down to their whims and fancies. Recently your truly has been reliably informed that AirAsia has closed down its office in Jakarta and all its personnel have now returned to Malaysia quietly. It must a very embarrassing event for AirAsia otherwise it will be issuing statements or tweets and published by the Star Newspapers.
Fortunately or unfortunately, when it failed to pay the Airport Tax that it has collected from its passengers, Indonesian Aviation Authority with one go grounded 3 AirAsia aircraft without hesitation. It immediately paid up the outstanding Airport Tax. Please read HERE.
Of course, one cannot blame AirAsia for taking things for granted because it owed only a small amount of Airport Tax in Jakarta if compared to the amount of more than RM130 million it owed MAHB spanning over more than five years.
When these Airport Tax debts became an issue in Parliament, AirAsia had to settle the airport tax debt and it was granted a discount of not less than 25% by the Tun Abdullah’s Administration. Under such circumstances, the Government should have imposed interest and other penalty charges. Unfortunately, AirAsia was not accorded with special treatment in Jakarta like what it had received in Malaysia. It had to pay the Airport Tax debts in full in Jakarta. It would have the Airport Tax debts paid in full with interest and penalty charges if MAHB were to ground all AirAsia aircraft like what had happened in Jakarta. We have to appreciate that MAHB is just a small pawn in this whole affairs. It has to constantly bow down to the little Napoleons in Khazanah who were in the state of willful blindness.
AirAsia cited “safety” issue at KLIA2. Is this the real reason?
You will recall during the constructions of KLIA2 Tan Sri Tony Fernandes/AirAsia were already protesting against the airport charges.
You will also recall that when there was delay in the completion of KLIA2 who was the sole complainant. It was Tan Sri Tony Fernandes/AirAsia. Was the real reason given for his complaints? No.
On 1-4-2014 the Deputy Minister of Transport had announced that KLIA2 will be operational on 9-5-2014 and LCCT will be closed. Despite notice of the closure of LCCT has been sent to AirAsia, it was in the state of defiance by making it public that it will not move until the “safety” issues have been resolved, HERE.
MAHB and Ministry of Transport were made out to look like useless authorities with no sense of responsibility and that they will just open KLIA2 to the public without getting all the appropriate approvals from all the controlling authorities. This is the mentality of those managing AirAsia.
Its statement was so arrogant . It came out with the excuse of KLIA2 was not safe for passengers. If safety is AirAsia paramount objective then it would not have objected to the use of aerobridge that will cost only 20 Sen per passenger. It will be safer for the passengers and aircraft for passengers to use the aerobridge rather than walking on the tarmac. But it strongly objected to the building of aerobridges in KLIA2.
When it flies to Chiangmai, Bangkok, Singapore and other airports, it obediently used the aerobbridges and paid for the usage. But it treated MAHB with contempt. This is the mentality of AirAsia. May be AirAsia has taken thing for granted when dealing with MAHB. In the past AirAsia has been bullying MAHB with immunity especially during the time when the “Fourth Floor Boys” were extremely powerful. That was when AirAsia was able to collect Airport Taxes from passengers and kept it as its running capital and MAHB was so powerless to take any actions against AirAsia to recover the Airport Tax debts. At its height, AirAsia was owing more than RM130 million in Airport Taxes.
On 2-4-2014 Ms Aireen Omar of AirAsia said that it will stay put in LCCT unless the “safety” issues are settled. Star came out with 3 articles in one day, one in its front page second lead story, the other two in StarBiz front page and page 2 highlighting the reasons why AirAsia refused to move to KLIA2. This was expected of the Star. Even a tweet from AirAsia’s director will be published as a news item in the Star. Of course, AirAsia stories are usually highlighted as important news in the Star by its highly acclaimed Star Business Editor, Ms BK Sidhu, the known “spoke person” for AirAsia” who will not hesitate to publish misleading story quoting unknown source to help AirAsia X to gain support for its IPO, HERE & HERE.
Is safety a real priority to AirAsia? Despite its influence, DCA only gave a temporary AOC to AirAsia due to safety issues, HERE.
On 5-4-2014 PM YAB Datuk Seri Najib announced that AirAsia must move to KLIA2 on 9-5-2014. The PM also ticked off AirAsia for being arrogant, HERE.
AirAsia was in the state of elegant silence for 10 days. Out of a sudden, it changed its tune yesterday and agreed to move to KLIA2 on 9-5-2014 despite its earlier stand on the so-called “safety” issues. But AirAsia/AirAsia X no longer stressed on the so-called “Safety” issues in its latest joint statement of yesterday. It was stressing on wanting to negotiate on the new airport charges to be based on its “business model”. Please read HERE.
The joint press statement by AirAsia director Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and AirAsia X Chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz have finally let the cat out of the bag. They were talking about the negotiations on the airport charges to be levied against AirAsia/AirAsia X. Below is the last paragraph of its joint statement.
Yours truly has highlighted the relevant parts for you so that you can clearly see whether the so-called “safety” issues as expressed earlier by Ms Aireen Omar of AirAsia was just a smoke screen or a genuine concern of AirAsia. Please see below the last paragraph of the joint statement:
“However, should the negotiations not be completed or concluded expeditiously, we hope the Government will be able to provide necessary mediation, in order to enable MAHB (Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd) to get its dues as the airport operator; and at the same time, enabling the AirAsia Group to efficiently operate based on our proven low-cost carrier business model through reasonable charges and levies,” they said in the statement.
It must be noted that as early as in June 2012, AirAisa/AirAsia X were already demanding concrete commitments from MAHB to a fixed airport charges for AirAsia/AirAsia X. Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz had already said: “Timeliness and a concrete black and white commitment on fixed airport charges in the new low-cost carrier terminal is needed to cool down the ongoing tension between AirAsia Chief Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB). Please read “MAHB should ignore low cost mentality”.
The Government must not be seen to be tolerating undue pressures from companies like AirAsia/AirAsia X and give them preferential or fixed airport charges for the use of KLIA2.
On 11-10-2012 the Ministry of Transport told Parliament that KLIA2 was not built specially for one particular airline, HERE.
Further, KLIA2 is built using public fund. AirAsia/AirAsia X has no right to demand for preferential or fixed airport charges. The cost of KLIA2 had to be recovered by MAHB through collection of airport charges.
If the Government is mindful of bowing to the pressure of AirAsia/AirAsia X, in all fairness the same percentage of preferential or fixed airport charges must be applied to all carriers using KLIA and KLIA2.
In the interim, the Government should instruct MAHB to take actions against AirAsia/AirAsia X to pay up the Airport Tax debt of about RM7 million (as in June 2012 – it should be higher by now) that were paid by passengers who did not travel. The said RM7 million has been confirmed in Parliament by the Ministry of Transport, HERE.
AirAsia/AirAsia X only have the right to forfeit the fares paid by un-travelled passengers but not the Airport Tax. The Airport Tax should handed over to MAHB or Bank Negara as unclaimed money.
Last but not least, Malaysia does not owe AirAsia/AirAsia X a living. Both of them must be reminded that the Government is to govern the country and not dance to the tunes of AirAsia/AirAsia X.
Please read an interesting article comparing air fare from KL to Jakarta charged by AirAsia, Malindo, KLM & MAS by RBFonline.net entitled: “Now Everything We Slaughter”.