AirAsia has hit back at the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom)’s June 13 statement, calling their rationale for the decision to reject the budget airline’s application to add more flights as grossly misleading.
In a statement from Air Asia, the airlines says most of their concerns were ignored and have not been addressed. This includes the operation of international routes which are unrestricted in bilateral air agreements, permitting unlimited operations by airlines in terms of frequencies, seat capacity and aircraft types, should not be blocked. Air Asia states that airlines should not be forced to provide commercially sensitive and confidential information such as unit revenue/cost (RASK/CASK) figures and air fare structures when requesting for route approvals. Financial evaluation of routes should be left to the airlines, as it is the airlines’ prerogative to decide on the commercial viability of their own operations. The airline also wants Mavcom to simplify the ATR allocation process as it is now extremely cumbersome due to the high number of documents and data that need to be provided to support applications for route approvals. Lastly, more transparency is required from Mavcom as no detailed computation/supporting data is provided when a route is rejected, other than a statement citing overcapacity on the route concerned.
The Airline adds that Malaysian carriers already lag behind their Asean competitors in terms of total weekly seats deployed for points in Asia. According to the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Thai carriers have deployed 893,166 weekly seats while Singapore carriers have deployed 661,863, compared to 590,422 by Malaysian carriers as of December 2017. Mavcom blocking growth in this manner only serves to benefit other regional airlines who are allowed to grow without undue restrictions by their own civil aviation authorities.
AirAsia Malaysia CEO Riad Asmat says, “Mavcom is not an airline, and should leave the business to actual airlines like AirAsia that understand the market. Since 2001, we have grown from two planes to more than 200 aircraft and from 200,000 guests flown in that first year to 89 million guests this year. We operate more than 320 routes – one-third of which are unique – to over 130 destinations across Asia Pacific, the Middle East and the US. We have a dedicated team of 20 people working on network and scheduling as well as another 60 people doing route revenue working to make flights more affordable for the rakyat. By failing to understand the true business of airlines, and by trying to micro-manage the industry, Mavcom is doing more harm than good to Malaysian aviation, the exact opposite of its mandate. It is holding the industry back with slow approvals and high charges while other countries invest heavily in increased air traffic connectivity, to the detriment of the Malaysian tourism sector and the economy.”