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AirAsia's Fernandes calls for removal of MAVCOM layer

AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes has continued the war of words with the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM), calling for responsibilities of the regulatory body to be returned to the transport ministry.

In a note published on LinkedIn, Fernandes says that "having regulators in the picture and adding layers of unreasonable cost for air travellers is just not right".

"I reiterate my stance in a fully liberalised aviation industry where [the] ministry of transport is returned the responsibility for reviewing charges reasonably and granting route approvals where bilateral rights are available as they understand the importance and values the benefits of a liberal aviation industry that will only take Malaysia to new skies."

Fernandes' note follows a statement issued by AirAsia on 14 June, where the low-cost carrier had made similar comments and critised MAVCOM for trying to "micro-manage the industry" after it rejected their application to raise frequencies on two routes due to overcapacity concerns. Then, the low-cost carrier had also called for the granting of route approvals to be handed back to the transport ministry.

In his latest note, Fernandes again criticised MAVCOM's 2017 decision to increase the passenger service charge (PSC) at Kuala Lumpur International airport's KLIA2 terminal, equalising it with that charged at the main KLIA terminal.

The new charges, which came into effect 1 January this year, saw PSC for outbound travellers to regions outside of Southeast Asia rise to MYR73 ($18.20) from an earlier MYR50. Fernandes argues that the two terminals have "vast differences" in airport facilities and services to both passengers and airlines.

"The standardisation of the PSC between the two terminals is senseless and fails to reflect the cost incurred in developing and managing the airport in accordance with ICAO's policies which encourages the development of charge-based formulas to benchmark the level of airport facilities and services," he says, adding that lower charges will serve as an "incentive" to boost Malaysia's tourism.

In May, the regulator lodged a police report against Fernandes after he accused MAVCOM of telling AirAsia to cancel all 120 additional flights it had requested to cater for increased demand during Malaysia's recent general election.

Established in March 2016 by the Malaysian government, MAVCOM says it serves as an independent entity to regulate economic and commercial matters related to civil aviation in the country. This includes administering and managing air traffic rights, as well as providing dispute resolution between aviation industry players.

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