7 December 2011
KANG SIEW LI, email@example.com
AirAsia Bhd now wants written assurance from Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that the airport and aeronautical charges remain at current levels if the budget airline were to relocate its operations to the new low-cost carrier terminal in Sepang (klia2).
It also demanded that MAHB sign a service level agreement (SLA) with it, formally defining the level of service MAHB is to provide at klia2, before it agrees to move to the new terminal.
"We are concerned that if we were to move there (klia2), there would be further increase in charges such as office rentals, landing and parking fees. They (MAHB) haven’t given us the rates so far," AirAsia COO Bo Lingam told a news conference yesterday, in the wake of the heightening dispute between MAHB and the budget airline over klia2 and the increased airport tax.
At the press conference, 10 senior executives of the airline gave their side of the story over the spat and refute MAHB claims of AirAsia asking for a bigger klia2. However, its group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and his deputy Datuk Kamarudin Meranun were not present.
Asked if airport and aeronautical charges at klia2 were to remain unchanged at current levels, AirAsia would also do the same with regards to its air fares, AirAsia commercial director Jasmine Lee said: "It depends on our cost of operations."
On the SLA, AirAsia regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan said: "We are the main tenant at the current LCCT, but yet we have to fight for everything to make a change. To the question, why do we need a contract, we are a business concern. This is how we price our fares. Airport charges constitute a hefty part of our pricing."
Nevertheless, Lingam said the budget airline has yet to decide whether to relocate to klia2 if these requirements including the SLA are not met.
"They being an operator and us being a customer, they need to also give services that we are happy (with) and our passengers are happy to pay the airport tax," he added.
"Having said that, we don’t need a five-star facility. we need a functional LCCT," said Lee.
In a statement yesterday, MAHB said currently it has a Conditions of Use (CoU) agreement with its airline partners as well as the ground handlers at KLIA, which provides guidance on the use of airport facilities, particularly in regard to the safe and secure use of the airport, as well as a schedule of applicable airport charges.
"This is very much in line with the common industry practice.
"In regard to AirAsia’s request for a specific SLA and its claim of having SLAs at airports abroad, we have indicated our willingness to have an SLA and are awaiting AirAsia’s proposal on the SLA for further study and consideration.
"We would also like to reiterate that the airport charges, both current and future, are regulated by the government and the mechanisms for future increases have been clearly defined in our operating agreement with the government," it added.
Meanwhile, Lee also questioned MAHB’s failure to set up a joint working committee with AirAsia to decide on the design, construction, costs and charges of klia2.
In response, MAHB said the weekly meetings held with AirAsia and other stakeholders suffice as they serve as a platform for all views and requirements to be discussed and addressed.
"Most of AirAsia’s requests have been complied with. Only issues which have financial implications are referred to the board. We will continue to engage AirAsia during the weekly meetings," it said.