9 December 2011
By Joseph Sipalanjsipalan@thestar.com.my
AirAsia supremo Tan Sri Tony Fernandes played down talk of a rift between the budget carrier and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), saying he is “optimistic” of an amicable solution to their decade-long spat.
He denied that the recent flare-up between his airline and MAHB was indicative of a further souring of their already tenuous relationship, preferring to focus on the possibility of signing a service level agreement (SLA) benefitting both parties.
“(Tan Sri) Bashir (Ahmad, MAHB managing director) is a good friend. Arguments happen… We’re very positive we can have a new beginning with MAHB,” he said after launching AirAsia’s 10th year anniversary celebrations at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).
On Tuesday, Fernandes said his airline was ready to bury the hatchet and invited Bashir to the celebrations in the hope of finding a “win-win solution”.
Bashir, however, did not attend the event as he was in Macau, said Fernandes.
AirAsia and MAHB have been at odds numerous times since the airline started operations in 2001, with the latest spat over the past two weeks seeing Fernandes slamming the airport manager for raising costs of the new LCCT at klia2.
This led to a series of exchanges between the two organisations, with each coming out with documents to disprove each other’s claims.
AirAsia also launched a protest campaign at the current terminal against the recent hike in airport tax.
Currently, the airline is pursuing a SLA with MAHB to finalise operating costs out of klia2 in “black and white”.
In response, MAHB said it was willing to consider the agreement and was waiting for AirAsia’s proposal.
Meanwhile, Fernandes indicated that he was grooming a successor to take over from him as group chief executive officer.
He initially said his “time as CEO is coming to an end soon”, but later clarified that there was no time frame for the transition.
“The question was (what is in store) in the next 10 years,” he said when pressed to clarify his statement.