Updates on 10 September 2019 2 11:00 pm: MAHB had obtained judgment of RM40.7 million against AirAsia and AirAsia X for outstanding PSC. On 10 September 2019 MAHB had applied to the High Court for a Garnishee Order to garnish said judgment debt from the three bankers of AirAsia, HERE.
Updates on 10 September 2019 @ 4:00 pm: Today MAVCOM has issued a press statement stating that it has found AirAsia and AirAsia X violating sub paragraph 3 (2) of Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) for charging processing fees for payment of air fare by credit card, debit card separate from their base fares. AirAsia and AirAsia X have been fined RM200,000 each, HERE. Let us see how long will it take the powerful ‘Captain’ Loke to issue a statement to reprimand AirAsia and AirAsia X for violating the said Code and taking the traveling public for a ride.
Malaysia’s infamous AirAsia pilot, ‘Captain’ Loke who is also our ‘venerated’ Transport Minister, keeps loke-ing the wrong direction in matters related to aviation. It is a sad case to say the least.
He has steered his ministry into turbulence at least over two issues that demand what is required of a composed pilot – control the aircraft and stay clear of obstacles and hazards.
His decision-making process on the collapse of the Total Airport Management System (TAM) on 25 August and the unilateral reduction of RM23 Passenger Service Charge (PSC) for KLIA2 and other airports, except for KLIA, can be considered:
- Errors arising from biases.
- As well as a breakdown in the processing of information coming in.
The Unilateral RM23 PSC Reduction
Yours truly would like to believe that by mere coincidence ‘Captain’ Loke set the reduction of RM23 PSC, which so happens to be the exact amount of reduction demanded by his good friend, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, HERE. May be great men DO think alike after all!
In an immediate response, Tony Fernandes announced that a special offer known as “Anthony Loke’s Special’, HERE.
God knows what the “offer” is because Tony didn’t announce the details of his special “offer”. Was this to mark ‘Captain’ Loke’s special contributions to AirAsia?
Only MAVCOM Can Gazette PSC Not ‘Captain’ Loke
Under the MAVCOM Act 2015 the ‘Captain”/Minister Loke has no power to fix the rate for PSC. The power to review, set and gazette of PSC lies with MAVCOM under the Act. If ‘Captain’ Loke wants the power so badly, please get Parliament to amend the Act to give him the sole power to steer MOT and aviation industry according to his and/or his friends’ whims and fancies!
Lets see whether the Commissioners in MAVCOM are prepared to be stooges of ‘Captain’ Loke and reduce MAVCOM to be rubber stamp. It might be an opportune moment to remind MAVCOM that its existence depends on the RM1 contribution from the travelling public and public confidence of it.
Lets see whether MAVCOM will close its eyes and gazette ‘Captain’ Loke’s RM23 reduction anytime from now so that the said reduction could be implemented on 1 October 2019 as announced by ‘Captain’ Loke recently!
In the interim, we can only hope that the distinguished commissioners in MAVCOM (Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib bin Abd Rahman [KSU of MOT], YA Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai [former Judge of Court of Appeal], Datuk Seri Long See Wool [former officer of MOT], Dato Fauziah Binti Yaacob) will not dance to the tune of ‘Captain Loke’ and to please someone’s ego.
The TAMS Failure
On the night of 25 August, KLIA, which was opened for operation with the Total Airport Management System (TAMS) in June 1998, had a major network failure.
It triggered a system outage at KLIA and KLIA2 which embarrassingly caused flight delays for four days.
Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) has not ruled out the possibility that the network failure was caused by an act of malicious intent.
On 27 August, MAHB lodged a police report and investigations are centred around causing damage through an act of mischief under Section 427 of the Penal Code.
Four suspects named by MAHB in its report have been suspended pending investigations. The police are now investigating the said report, HERE.
On 27 August, Anthony Loke flew into overdrive to immediately announce a six-member task force headed by the secretary-general of Ministry of Transport (MOT), Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib Abdul Rahman, to investigate the breakdown of the TAMS.
The KLIA TAMS System Failure Issue Investigation Committee will also recommend measures to avoid a repeat of the incident. The task force has been given a month to complete its job, HERE.
The breakdown of TAMS was rectified and both KLIA and KLIA2 were back to normal.
This was the first time in 21 years since the opening of KLIA that such outage had occurred in KLIA.
However, KLIA and KLIA2 were not closed. Of course, there were flight delays and inconveniences caused.
The 21-year-old TAMS may need to be replaced. The cost for the new system may be prohibitive but MAHB has to bite the bullet and go for it. It is a one off cost, which will last another 20 years or more. It will also be peace of mind for “Captain” Loke and there would be no need for him to form in lightning speed another Task Force just to address another breakdown, which may be unlikely because of the recent measures taken by MAHB.
Do We Need a Special Task Force?
Did such outage only happen in Malaysia? NO.
There were many incidents of system failures in airports and checkpoints in developed countries like Singapore, United Kingdom, France and the USA with some suffering worse disruptions. Please look at the examples below.
Today AirAsia aircraft caught fire in mid air from Maldive, HERE. Is ‘Captain’ Loke going to set up a task force to investigate into the safety issues in AirAsia to prevent tragedies? Did we hear a big NO from ‘Captain’ Loke? It is ok we do understand your predicament.
Examples Of System Failures At Checkpoints & International Airports
On 16 May 2017, technical glitch in the immigration clearance system at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints caused massive delay. HERE.
On 1 August 2018, the baggage check-in systems at both terminals 1 and 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai were affected, causing massive delays in issuing of boarding passes and loading baggage.
The glitch was due to the failure of the local area network linking the Airport Management System. HERE.
On 7 August 2019, Heathrow Airport terminals for British Airway (BA) became congested when its computer systems crashed, resulting in 138 flights being cancelled and a further 260 being delayed. At least 35,000 passengers travel plans were put into disarray. HERE.
On 17 August 2019, thousands of travellers at major US airports (JFK, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Dulles etc) faced congested terminals and long lines due to a temporary computer outage that affected the US Customs and Border Protection’s processing systems, HERE.
1 September 2019, after a failure of the common computer and communication systems, French airport authority had significantly reduced flights capacity in several of its airports (Marseille, Bordeaux, Paris, Reims and Brest. HERE.
Did the ministers of transport in those countries became jumpy and set up a task force to investigate?
No. The government of the respective countries left it to their airport authorities to investigate and resolve the problems unlike our eager beaver ‘Captain’/minister Loke.
We can only hope that nervousness of ‘Captain’ Loke was not triggered due to MAHB and/or for his love for … .
‘Captain’/Minister Loke: What Is Your ultimate Agenda?
Yours truly hopes that there is no other agenda here except the eagerness of the minister to show that he was working very hard for the travellers like what he had done to unilaterally reduce the RM23 PSC for KLIA2 and other airports, which will no doubt benefit international travellers. BUT cost the government to the tune of at least RM200 – RM300 millions to make up for the RM23 reduction. Ultimately the rakyat will have to pay for the subsidy.
Coincidentally, “Captain’ Loke’s good friend, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, has been campaigning openly against the RM73 PSC. He wanted a reduction of RM23 for the PSC too. It seemed that ‘Captain’ Loke had plugged the RM23 from the air and it so happened to coincide with the demands of Tan Sri Fernandes.
MAHB Sued AirAsia & AirAsia X For Outstanding PSC & Other Charges
AirAsia refused to collect the RM73 PSC, opting for only RM50. MAHB sued AirAsia and AirAsia X for the shortfall of RM23 PSC and outstanding PSC debt totalling RM40.7 million.
Of course, ‘Captain’ Loke being an extremely concerned minister, immediately offered his services to mediate in the lawsuit, HERE. This was unheard of in world aviation where a minister offered to mediate in a law suit to recover PSC and other debts.
We hope that in future ‘Captain’ Loke will jump in to offer himself as mediator in all disputes between MAHB and all airlines for not collecting full PSC or for owing PSC and/or other charges including aeronautical charges!
Rumour has it that ‘Captain’ Loke has plenty of free time to chair meetings of certain airline. So all airlines could just give him a call and he will chair any meetings for airlines.
Luckily MAHB reject the AirAsia’s offer of mediation, HERE. The High court granted Summary Judgment for the RM40.7 mil against AirAsia and AirAsia X.
‘Captain’ Loke, The Festive Greeter
To digress a little, it must be admitted that ‘Captain’ Loke works extremely hard to the extent that he found special time to board an AirAsia aircraft to wish passengers “Happy Chinese New Year”. No other Minister of Transport had done this before.
We applaud ‘Captain’ Loke for his well-intentioned gesture and hope that he will not restrict it to Chinese New Year only and carry on with his great festive greetings during Hari Raya, Deepavali, Gawai and Christmas to passengers not only for his favourite airline AirAsia but MAS, Malindo, Firefly, MASwings and others. ‘Captain’ Loke, you have done what other ministers never dared to think of doing like unilaterally announcing a reduction of PSC. ‘Captain’ Loke, it is a shame that Tony Fernandes did not recognise your enormous contribution and confer you the title, “Father of AirAsia”. May be it will be announced soon!
Heads To Roll In MAHB
A little bird whispered to yours truly that a powerful man in the aviation industry had sent out a message to the effect that “He will ensure heads in MAHB will roll”. Why? Was it because this powerful person couldn’t get what he wanted from MAHB like he used to?
Lastly, we hope that the all-time powerful ‘Captain’/minister Loke has no other agenda in all his initiatives including to please his friends.