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AirAsia slams MAVCOM for 'micro-managing' industry

AirAsia has critised the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) for trying to "micro-manage the industry", saying that this will block the growth of the country's airlines.

The low-cost carrier made the comment, after MAVCOM put out a statement explaining that it had rejected AirAsia's application to raise frequencies on two routes due to overcapacity concerns. AirAsia was seeking more allocations for its four-times weekly Kuala Lumpur-Haikou and 25-times weekly Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan services.

In the strongly-worded two-page statement, AirAsia says the operation of international routes that are unrestricted in bilateral air agreements should not be blocked.

"MAVCOM's decision to reject our route applications is therefore completely against the Open Skies policy advocated by the Ministry of Transport Malaysia when negotiating for bilateral air agreements with other countries."

The carrier also reiterated its stance that the granting of route approvals should be handed back to the transport ministry.

It adds that airlines "should not be forced to provide commercially sensitive and confidence information" when requesting for route approvals. These include RASK and CASK figures, and air fare structures.

"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."

AirAsia also wants MAVCOM to simplify the rights application process, which it calls "extremely cumbersome", due to the "high number of documents and data that need to be provided". In addition, the carrier calls for greater transparency and says supporting data should be provided when rejecting a route application.

"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 says that its flights on Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan are already at 90% load factors, and is keen to boost tourism in the Eastern state of Sabah. It also called on the commission to review the Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan 21-week frequencies of Malaysia Airlines' domestic unit, MASWings, saying that the fully-subsidised airline "possess an undue financial advantage over commercial airlines".

“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,” says AirAsia Malaysia's chief executive Riad Asmat.

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