KUALA LUMPUR (July 29): A year on, AirAsia Group Bhd has launched a social media campaign, protesting against the government's move to equalise the passenger service charge (PSC) for non-Asean international flights at klia2 with that of the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
With a video and statement posted under the hashtag #FairAirportTax on Twitter, the low-cost carrier is speaking out against what it says is unfair treatment for all budget travellers flying beyond Asean out of klia2, who are required to pay a PSC of RM73 from RM50 previously — similar to their counterparts who are flying out of KLIA and other airports in the country.
This follows a High Court ruling on July 18 that ordered AirAsia to pay airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) at least RM40.6 million over unpaid PSC from July to December last year. AirAsia is appealing the decision.
The outstanding PSC collection was due to AirAsia's refusal to collect the full PSC of RM73 imposed by MAHB for non-Asean international departures from klia2. The airline has only been charging RM50 per passenger on its flights as it felt klia2 passengers should not be paying the same PSC as those departing from KLIA, which AirAsia deemed is more superior in terms of facilities and service quality.
Today AirAsia raised its defensive position by a notch with the #FairAirportTax campaign, noting that a reason why it had not collected the RM23 difference in PSC was to provide its passengers with the opportunity to fly through low fares.
"In order to keep fares low, we need the support from our stakeholders, especially airports which have the power to create guest-friendly spaces. Right now, we don't believe MAHB shares that same vision," it said, hitting out at MAHB.
It went on to explain that klia2 was designed and operated as a low-cost carrier terminal.
"This is why we think you (passengers at klia2) should not have to pay the same airport tax as the far more equipped and luxurious terminal at KLIA. Airport tax has always been lower at klia2 for years until (July) 2018, when it was suddenly increased and equalised for reasons unknown," said AirAsia.
"We believe that increased airport taxes stifle tourism, hamper economic growth and put other destinations at a considerable advantage over Malaysia," it added.
AirAsia also hit out at MAHB over the poor airport design at klia2, citing the extended walking distances that often cause delays to its flights and passengers missing their connecting flights.
"As the biggest user of klia2 (97% of overall passenger traffic), we want to ensure the terminal is fit for purpose, but due to frequent unplanned runway closures, uneven aircraft aprons and poor taxiways we often encounter operational issues," said AirAsia.
Calling for travellers' support using the hashtag #FairAirportTax, AirAsia warned that the PSC at klia2 may need to be increased to RM73 from RM50. "If this occurs, AirAsia will provide appropriate notice of the increase."
PSC is currently paid by all departing passengers as part of their flight bookings with airlines, which will pass the collection to MAHB after the journey is completed.
At 2.58pm, AirAsia shares were up 10 sen or 5.13% at RM2.05, with 37.54 million shares done, bringing a market capitalisation of RM6.82 billion.