The group representing most of the airlines operating in Malaysia has welcomed the High Court’s decision to dismiss an application by AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Bhd to strike out suits by the airport operator over payment of outstanding airport tax.
The Board of Airline Representatives Malaysia (BAR) said it was glad that the equalisation of passenger service charges (PSC) was “finally happening” after so long.
Last week, the High Court ruled that AirAsia and AirAsia X must pay RM40.6 million in outstanding PSC to Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) subsidiary Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd (MASSB).
The low-cost airline is appealing the decision.
Previously, AirAsia chief executive Riad Asmat confirmed that the airline was only collecting RM50 in PSC, in defiance of the government gazette mandating a collection of RM73 from each passenger flying to a destination outside Asean.
Riad had said that the RM73 PSC was unfair to passengers given that the facilities in airports around the country, including klia2, were not on par with those at KLIA.
BAR had then said that AirAsia’s practice had led to an uneven playing field.
“We believe in and want a level playing field, it is not for any particular airline to dictate,” said BAR in its latest statement.
“In any other country, the stunt by AirAsia to not collect the mandated amount or withhold taxes and fees would have resulted in penalties and even their aircraft being impounded.”
It added that the move gave AirAsia an unfair pricing advantage over other airlines and hoped that with the ruling all parties would now move forward and work together for the sake of the travelling public.
Former Malaysia Airlines boss Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman also lauded the court decision, saying everyone must follow the law.
“The law is the law, whether you agree with it or not you have to abide by it.
“If you do not agree, the right thing to do is challenge it in court, but you need to follow the law because it affects others.”
Aziz said the court’s decision gave clarity on the matter, which was important as the PSC was vital to MAHB’s operating costs.
He said the PSC went towards MAHB’s cost of running airports in the country, many of which were not profitable but ensured accessibility to the different parts of the country.
Last week MAHB group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said they were pleased with the ruling as it meant they could collect the PSC amount gazetted by the Malaysian Aviation Commission.
“It also means that we can have an environment of fairer competition between airlines operating at these two terminals, as well as allow Malaysia to be better aligned to international guidelines, including with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) principle of non-discriminatory pricing at airports.”